MELBOURNE, Australia — Japan and South Korea conducted missile and rocket launches on Australian soil over the weekend for the first time during a multinational military exercise also involving the United States.
Japan fired a Type 03 medium-range surface-to-air missile, or Chu-SAM, during a demonstration at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, while South Korea launched rockets from a K239 Chunmoo rocket artillery system at the same event.
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force also fired an inert Type 12 truck-launched anti-ship missile from the Beecroft Weapons Range near Jervis Bay, south of Sydney, in a separate event on Friday.
Australian Army Brig. Damian Hill, who directed the Talisman Sabre exercise, said the drills serve as an opportunity to train alongside allies and regional partners.
“This is Japan’s largest-ever participation in Exercise Talisman Sabre, and further strengthens interoperability between our military forces,” Hill said.
Maj. Shinchiro Senzaki of the Japanese ground force touted the successful firing of a Type 12 missile, adding that the country’s participation at Talisman Sabre “enhances the trust and the relationship between Australia and Japan.”
Japan’s contingent at the exercise also included more than 1,500 personnel and three Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships, including the JS Izumo. That helicopter destroyer was recently converted to operate fixed-wing fighter jets, although it only carried helicopters for this exercise.
Other weapons involved in the firepower demonstration at Shoalwater Bay included U.S Marine Corps M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, Australian M777A2 towed howitzers and South Korean K9 Thunder tracked artillery systems.
Australia had selected the K9 to meet its self-propelled howitzer requirements, with plans to acquire 45, plus the associated AS10 ammunition carrier vehicles.
This year’s exercise will see 30,000 personnel from 13 nations take part in the two-week biennial event, which runs until Aug. 4. A wide range of capabilities — from an aircraft carrier to special forces — are to take part.
According to the Australian Defence Department, other participants include Fiji, France, Indonesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany, with the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand attending as observers.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.