Three U.S. aircraft carriers are set to stage drills in the western Pacific in a show of force that coincides with President Trump's travel to the region.

MELBOURNE, Australia – Japan has announced it will participate in the U.S. Navy’s three-carrier strike force exercise in the Western Pacific, sending its own ships and aircraft to join the exercise.

In a news release, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force of JMSDF said that three of its ships and aircraft from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force or JASDF will join in the exercises to be held off the East China Sea and Sea of Japan.

The three JMSDF ships participating in the exercise are the helicopter destroyer JS Ise (DDH 182) and destroyers JS Inazuma (DD 105) and JS Makinami (DD 112). In addition two Mitsubishi F-15J Eagle interceptors from the JASDF’s 6th Air Wing from Komatsu Airbase will also be involved.

The news release also says that the JMSDF is keen to use every opportunity to strengthen the alliance with the U.S. Navy, noting that joining such exercises like these contribute to regional security.

The U.S. Navy had previously announced that it will commence a three-carrier strike force exercise in the Western Pacific on Nov 11-14 involving the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Nimitz (CVN 68), and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) strike groups.

This is the first time that three carrier strike groups have operated together in the Western Pacific since the Valiant Shield exercises off the coast of Guam in 2006 and 2007, and comes as President Donald Trump wraps up a multi-country Asia visit this week.

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Scott Swift noted that “it is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three”.

The USS Ronald Reagan is the U.S. Navy’s sole forward-deployed aircraft carrier and is currently homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, while the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group has just started a deployment to the 7th and 5th Fleet Area of Operations, replacing the USS Nimitz carrier strike group which is approaching the end of a similar deployment.

According to the U.S. Navy, the the strike force plans to conduct air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, close-in coordinated maneuvers, and other training during the multi-carrier exercise.

Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.

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