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U.S. marines to use new rocket launcher in joint exercise

The U.S. Marine Corps will use a new self-propelled rocket launcher in the upcoming joint exercise “Northern Viper” with the Ground Self-Defense Forces to be held in Hokkaido beginning August 10. Akahata learned on August 1 that the Marines will use for the first time in Japan the new launcher during a live-fire exercise at the Yausubetsu range, which will begin on August 16. Cluster munitions, which eject a large amount of smaller submunitions over a wide area, will be fired from the launchers. When used in Iraq and Afghanistan, unexploded submunitions turned into land mines, which caused civilian casualties.


The new rocket launcher is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). The launcher is capable of firing six rockets with a range of 32 to 60 kilometers and containing 404 to 644 submunitions each, or a single missile with a range of 300 kilometers that contains 275 submunitions. The rocket is effective against targets within a 100 meters x 200 meter area, whereas the missile can is effective against targets within a 200 meter x 200 meters area.


The public affairs office of the Ground Staff Office said that U.S. forces would for the first time use HIMARS in a Japan-U.S. joint exercise in Japan.


The 12th Marine Regiment [an artillery battalion], which will participate in the exercise from Okinawa Prefecture, does not have units equipped with HIMARS, so a U.S. marine unit equipped with HIMARS will apparently join the exercise from the U.S.


This illustrates how Japan-U.S. joint exercises conducted in Japan are being transformed into more offense-oriented exercises for conducting more substantial military operations.

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