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Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada ordered the Self-Defense Forces Friday to ready two of its P-3C patrol aircraft for an antipiracy mission off Somalia to protect Japan-related vessels.

The dispatch, which the minister said will be made by the end of next month, will be the first overseas mission for the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s four-engine turboprop antisubmarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.

The aircraft will complement the two MSDF destroyers that have been conducting escort missions for Japan-linked commercial ships in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden, patrolling a vast area off the Horn of Africa.

Two P-3Cs, their crew and ground support staff, totaling about 150 SDF members, will be based at the Djibouti international airport during the mission, according to the Defense Ministry.

Air Self-Defense Force aircraft will also transport personnel and supplies, the ministry said.

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