Japan is likely to send its Izumo-class helicopter carrier to the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean this year as well.
The two-month deployment of the 27,000-ton JS Kaga comes as Japan aims to boost its presence in this strategically important region, Reuters reported citing two unnamed Japanese officials as saying.
The 248-meter-long JS Kaga, which was commissioned last year at Japan Marine United shipyard, will visit Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka as part of the mission scheduled to start in September.
“This is part of Japan’s efforts to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific,” one of the officials told Reuters.
The move to send the vessel allegedly comes amid mounting concerns of Japan and the US over China’s military presence in the disputed waters.
Last year, Japanese 24,000 helicopter carrier JS Izumo also participated in a three-month deployment to the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Referred to as helicopter-destroyers by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, JS Kaga and JS Izumo are capable of operating some nine helicopters from their decks and are armed with two Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile SeaRAM launchers and two Phalanx close-in weapon systems.