Friday, June 19, 2015

Update: Pacific Fleet Preparing for Large-Scale Exercise

Kilo submarine spotted near La Perouse Strait -- June 18
(credit: Japanese Ministry of Defense)

It took a little time, but the Eastern Military District has finally announced what was already evident: the Pacific Fleet is carrying out a large exercise. According to today's announcements:

The readiness of fleet forces (troops) to carry out actions as part of tactical groups will be inspected during the exercise, which will be under the control of combined unit commanders in the Sea of Japan, the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, and in Avacha Bay.

During the phased inspection, levels of combat readiness of execution of elements of combat training will be assessed for ship, submarine, naval aviation and coastal troop commands on the Kamchatka Peninsula and in the Primorye Kray. Nearly 50 ships and auxiliary vessels, 40 aircraft and helicopters, and up to 14,000 servicemen and civilian specialists will be part of the inspection.

Additionally, Kamchatka-based SSC-1 Sepal coastal defense cruise missile units have been put on alert and deployed to launch points as part of the exercise.

Not much in terms of naval ship participation has changed since this unfolding exercise was first discussed on Monday. According to social media, Sovremennyy destroyer "Bystryy" and Udaloy I destroyers "Admiral Vinogradov" and "Marshal Shaposhnikov" departed Vladivostok earlier this week after loading weapons at nearby Fokino. And Kilo submarine activity continues to be observed near the La Perouse Strait.

While the official announcements so far only point to a naval exercise, there have been some other notable training events in the Eastern Military District this week that may suggest the naval training activities could morph into a larger military district event.

  • During one training event, 300 district-level peacekeeping troops were ordered to provide security at an unspecified Primorye Kray airfield as humanitarian aid was being flown in and as refugees were being flown out of an area that had experienced some type of emergency. Nearly 300 soldiers and naval infantrymen were activated for this event.
  • On June 18, Airborne Troops, along with MI-8 Hip and MI-24 Hind helicopters, SU-25 Frogfoot close air support fighters, and IL-76 Candid transport aircraft, held a command-staff exercise at the Sosonovyy Bor training range near Ulan-Ude. One of the BMD-2 vehicles dropped during the training fell to the ground after its parachute failed to deploy. The accident may have led to a forest fire which has spread to nearly 730 hectares, although local officials are still investigating.
  • Nearly 2,000 district troops and 600 pieces of heavy equipment are deploying to the Sergeyevskiy training grounds in the Primorye area for live-fire drills.