Aircrews from the “Warlords” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 51 and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) “Mighty 59” of Air Development Squadron (VX) 51 conducted bi-lateral exercises, Sept. 14.
An MH-60R Seahawk assigned to HSM-51 and an SH-60K assigned to VX-51 conducted a bilateral squadron Tactical Formation (TACFORM) flight, and a dual helicopter Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) tracking exercise. This was the first of its kind bi-lateral ASW event between HSM-51 and VX-51 have ever flown together.
“The exercise that we conducted with JMSDF demonstrated that we are fully capable of integration between our two nations,” said Lt. Kris Appel, an HSM-51 pilot. “I believe this sets us up for an increase in lethality and prepares us to face any future challenges our two countries may face together.”
The cooperative flight was flown over the Philippine Sea off the coast of Japan. The two squadrons practiced safety of flight formation maneuvers and ASW tactics. The exercises promoted increased collaboration between Commander, 7th Fleet assets and their JMSDF hosts.
“We were able to improve our joint operational skills through this event.” Said Lt. j.g. Jumpei Yoshimura, a VX-51 pilot. “We are looking forward to flying the next event with the U.S. Navy.”
HSM-51 is forward-deployed to Naval Air Facility Atsugi and embarks aboard multiple ships in the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet Area of Operations.
VX-51 is a squadron in the Fleet Air Force of the JMSDF based in Atsugi, Japan.