• Kyodo News


The government plans to give the order later this week to add two P-3C patrol aircraft to the antipiracy mission off Somalia, government sources said Sunday.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada is expected to issue the order Friday after the plan is approved by the top security panel and the Cabinet. It will be the first time for P-3C planes to be dispatched on an overseas mission.

Upon receiving the order, the Defense Ministry will send an advance team to Djibouti before dispatching the main unit later this month, the sources said. The Maritime Self-Defense Force aircraft are expected to begin their mission in June using the Djibouti airport as their base.

The mission will involve about 150 personnel, including the air crews and Ground Self-Defense Force personnel who will guard the airport, according to the ministry. In addition, the Air Self-Defense Force will transport personnel and necessary supplies to the airport.

The P-3C aircraft will complement 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.

The two planes will search for pirate boats and provide information to the destroyers, Japan-related ships and other countries’ military vessels navigating the high seas, according to the ministry.

The destroyers have escorted 44 vessels between late March, when they began their mission, and last Wednesday.

Such countries as Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China have sent naval vessels to the area to patrol for pirates in support of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

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