TOKYO (AP) — The United States, Canada, India, Japan and South Korea were conducting joint combat exercises against submarines during talks between Japanese and South Korean leaders aimed at strengthening their alliance with Washington in the face of threats from China and North Korea.
Exercises Sea Dragon 23 began Wednesday and will involve more than 270 hours of flight training “from tracking simulated targets to the ultimate problem of tracking a US Navy submarine,” the US 7th Fleet said in a press release. .
Pilots and flight officers from all participating countries will also have classroom training sessions to “build plans and discuss tactics that incorporate their respective countries’ capabilities and equipment,” the 7th Fleet added.
The drills were organized as a competition, with the country that earns the most points taking the “Dragon Belt”.
The US Navy is represented by two P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, now based in Guam. He did not clarify where the exercises would be held or how long they would last.
With 50 to 70 ships and submarines, 150 aircraft, and more than 27,000 Sailors and Marines ready to deploy at any time, the 7th Fleet “routinely operates and interacts with allies and partners to preserve a free and open,” he said.
That includes operating in the South China Sea, where it often angers Beijing by sailing and flying near islands controlled and fortified by China, which claims the strategic region virtually entirely.
The exercises also coincided with China’s joint search and rescue exercises in the Gulf of Oman with Iran and Russia, three of the countries with the most tensions with the United States.
Other as-yet-unidentified countries were also participating in the “Security Loop-2023” exercises, which according to the Chinese Ministry of Defense will help “deepen practical cooperation between the navies of the participating countries and inject positive energy into regional peace and stability.” .
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that the White House was not concerned about such joint moves.
Disputes between China and Japan over tiny islands in the East China Sea have also escalated, with both sides accusing each other of encroaching on their maritime territory.