21:47 GMT +325 July 2017
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    In this image released by the U.S. Navy, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, flanked by South Korean destroyers, from left, Yang Manchun and Sejong the Great, and the U.S.Navy's Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy, transit the western Pacific Ocean Wednesday, May 3, 2017.

    Show of Force? US Carrier Group, Japan Start War Games in Sea of Japan

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    Asia & Pacific
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    Japanese Air Self-Defense and Maritime Self-Defense forces began joint military exercises with the US carrier group led by USS Ronald Reagan and USS Carl Vinson in the Sea of Japan (East China Sea), the Japanese military announced Thursday.

    TOKYO (Sputnik) — Japan's Hyuga-class helicopter carrier and JDS Ashigara, an Atago-class guided missile destroyer, are taking part alongside aircraft including US F/A18 Hornet multirole fighter jets and Japanese F15 fighters, the Japanese naval command said.

    Air force exercises will conclude Friday, while maritime exercises are to end on June 3. The aim of the joint drills is to enhance cooperation between US and Japanese military on sea and in the air.

    The United States dispatched two aircraft carriers to the Sea of Japan (East China Sea) in the wake of recurrent North Korean missile tests. US and Japanese leaders had agreed 26 May to increase tangible pressure on North Korea.

    USS Ronald Reagan recently returned to service after undergoing maintenance in Japan. With its home base in the Pacific coast Kanagawa prefecture, the vessel reportedly crossed into Sea of Japan on May 31.

    USS Carl Vinson took part in joint exercises with the Japanese navy and air forces in April staged in the Western Pacific. The supercarrier has been near the Korean peninsula since April where it is supposedly on a mission to restrain North Korea. Pyongyang responded with more ballistic missile tests.

    North Korea’s missile tests were discussed several times during the UN Security Council sessions, drawing unanimous condemnation and talks of further sanctions against Pyongyang.

    Meanwhile, the Los Angeles-class attack submarine Olympia has made a stop in Yokosuka, Japan as part of its deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the US Navy said in a press release on Thursday.

    "The Western Pacific deployment is considered the culminating event for a submariner," Olympia's commanding officer Ben Selph, stated. "Olympia's crew is truly excited to be able to operate in this theater, as well as contribute to the strong regional ties with our allies overseas."

    The purpose of Olympia's visit is to interact with Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force. Moreover, the visit also signals the US Navy's commitment to regional stability and maritime security, the release explained. Traveling at a speed of 20 knots, Olympia could sail from Yokosuka to the South Korean port of Busan in approximately 32 hours.

    Olympia can perform anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare, the release also said.

    Related:

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    USS Carl Vinson to Remain Near Shores of Korean Peninsula in Open-Ended Mission
    Tags:
    military drills, USS Carl Vinson, USS Ronald Reagan, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), Japan, United States
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