Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) personnel have successfully fired two FH-70 howitzers out to 25 kilometres while in Australia.
This marks a historic first for the JGSDF, as there is no military range large enough in Japan to conduct such a long-range firing activity.
Japan’s firing of its howitzers took place at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area during Exercise Southern Jackaroo, a two-week trilateral ground exercise involving Australia, Japan and the US, which is due to finish tomorrow.
The firing of FH-70 howitzers out to 25 kilometres is part of a suite of initiatives agreed to during the Australia-Japan Foreign and Defence Ministers’ Meeting in October 2018.
Captain Yutu Goto, a Fire Direction Officer for the JGSDF, said he was grateful to be able to use the Shoalwater Bay Training Area for their first ever long-range howitzer firing activity.
“The opportunity to be able to conduct this firing activity in Australia’s large training area has been very beneficial for the Japan Ground Self Defense Force,” Captain Goto said.
“The Japan Ground Self Defense Force should be proud of the achievements it has made during this exercise and we were proud to be a part of it,” Commander of the Australian Army’s 7th Brigade, Brigadier Andrew Hocking, said.
“The capability is complex, so to prove that their munitions and guns are effective at that range is a real accomplishment. This not only gives the Japan Ground Self Defense Force confidence, but it also gives us even more confidence to work closely with each other in support of peace and security."
Exercise Southern Jackaroo involved over 150 JGSDF troops along with around 300 US Marine Rotational Force – Darwin members and over 260 soldiers from the Australian Army’s 7th Brigade.
The Japanese activity marks the importance of Australian ranges to densely-populated Asian states, with Singapore set to invest $2.25 billion to establish a training area in Greenvale in Queensland and expand Shoalwater Bay.
Up to 14,000 Singapore Armed Forces personnel are expected to conduct unilateral training in the two training areas, for up to 18 weeks each year. Both training areas will be owned by the Australian Government and the ADF will have priority use.