WASHINGTON – Three of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers plan to hold a joint exercise in the western Pacific Ocean in mid-November, American military sources have told Jiji Press.
The navy and Self-Defense Forces are also making arrangements for the SDF to take part in the drills, the sources said.
According to a senior U.S. military official, a drill with three flattops participating is extremely rare.
The exercise — which will demonstrate U.S. military capabilities and its commitment to U.S.-Japan ties — will be held as a warning to North Korea, which continues its nuclear and missile development.
It is expected to be a large-scale event, as the three participating aircraft carriers, the USS Ronald Reagan, the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Nimitz, each head a carrier strike group that includes Aegis destroyers.
In June, the Reagan and the USS Carl Vinson, another U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, conducted a joint drill in the Sea of Japan with Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces.
It will be the first joint exercise involving three flattops since a similar drill was held in 2007 in the waters off Guam.
Although the exact location of the planned exercise is undecided, the drill may be held in waters near the Korean Peninsula, the sources said.
U.S. President Donald Trump is set to visit Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines from Nov. 5-13.
The sources said that it is purely by chance that the exercise may coincide with Trump’s visit to the Asian nations.
The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, which handles growing threats from North Korea and China and is based in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, covers an area west of the international date line to the Indian Ocean.
Currently, the Reagan, active near the Korean Peninsula, the Roosevelt, which is on its way to an operation in the Middle East from its home port in San Diego, and the Nimitz, which is returning to the United States after completing an operation in the Middle East, are deployed in the fleet’s area.
As it is rare for three aircraft carriers to assemble in one area, a drill should be conducted if there is an opportunity, a U.S. military official said.
The official added that the exercise will enable the United States to display its military might, as well as demonstrate the country’s determination to protect its allies.