The US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) concluded the annual Mine Warfare Exercise (MIWEX) 2JA 2020 in Mutsu Bay, Japan on 23 July.

The bilateral exercise strengthens the interoperability of the participating mine warfare forces in mine countermeasure operations.

During the training, the two forces deployed inert training mines to designated areas.

Individual units were tasked with sweeping the inert mines with mechanical gear or hunting the mines with underwater detection and neutralisation systems.

JMSDF Mine Division 3 and US Navy Commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 worked together to conclude the exercise.

Mine countermeasure ships used tools and strategies to identify and neutralise mines.

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Participating vessels deployed mechanical sweep gear to cut inert moored mines and underwater technology for mine detection.

The forces used their sonar to detect and classify potential inert bottom mines.

Additionally, underwater drones were used to provide visual identification of inert bottom mines and ‘simulated prosecuting’ those inert mines.

USS Patriot (MCM 7) commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Volkle said: “2JA was a phenomenal opportunity to hone the critical warfighting skills for our crews and enhance our alliance with Japan at the tactical level.

“The crew flexed both tactical procedures and casualty response throughout the combat systems, doggedly pursuing solutions to technical problems and keeping Patriot in the fight.”

Throughout the exercise, minemen also worked to resolve any issues in the complex countermeasure systems.

The exercise continued day and night to detect and neutralise mines.

US Navy mine countermeasures ships USS Patriot and USS Pioneer (MCM 9) flew their mine neutralisation vehicles and simulated prosecuting several inert bottom mines during the exercise.

In a separate development, as Japan is weighing its missile defence options, US-based Raytheon is lobbying to replace Lockheed Martin as a supplier of radar systems, according to Reuters.

Raytheon is lobbying for the installation of its SPY-6 radar on refitted destroyers, amongst others.

Lockheed Martin has secured a contract to develop $300m SPY-7 radars at Aegis Ashore locations, which have been cancelled.