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US test fires HIMARS in Japan during Orient Shield exercise

Taiwan set to buy 11 HIMARS launchers, 64 M57 Unitary missiles from US

HIMARS launcher in firing position (Lockheed Martin photo)

HIMARS launcher in firing position (Lockheed Martin photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. Army said on Wednesday (July 7) that it had fired a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in Japan for the first time.

Previously, the Marine Corps had fired a HIMARS in 2020 during the bilateral exercise Northern Viper with Japanese troops in Hokkaido, Stars and Stripes reported.

This year, Army soldiers fired the weapon between June 28 and 30 as part of the Orient Shield exercise, which concludes Thursday, according to U.S. Army Japan Spokesman Major Elias Chelala. He added that HIMARS had been brought to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on the logistics ship USNS Fisher.

The U.S. approved the potential sale of 11 HIMARS launchers and 64 M57 Unitary missiles to Taiwan in October 2020. These rocket systems will help the East Asian nation update its military capabilities while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allies, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.

This year’s Orient Shield is the 36th iteration of the exercise, which aims to “enhance interoperability and test and refine multi-domain and cross-domain operations,” according to the Orient Shield Facebook page. The training has so far included cyber and space capabilities but mostly focused on “long-range fires, aviation, ground operations and movement of equipment by sea,” Chelala said.

The exercise comes amid increasing Chinese aggression toward Taiwan, which has caused major concern in Washington and Tokyo. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price on Wednesday said that Washington has “repeatedly urged Beijing to cease its military, its diplomatic, its economic pressure against Taiwan and instead to engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan.”

Japan's Deputy Prime Minister Aso Taro said on Tuesday that Tokyo “would have to defend Taiwan” if China invaded. He later walked back his statement, saying Japan is “closely monitoring the situation.”

Updated : 2022-01-22 23:51 GMT+08:00