Photo/IllutrationMembers of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade descend from an Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) 7 during the Fuji Firepower Review 2018 held in Shizuoka Prefecture on Aug. 26. (Hirotaka Kojo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

GOTEMBA, Shizuoka Prefecture--The Ground Self-Defense Force showed off its new brigade set up to defend Japan’s outlying islands at a live-fire drill held in front of the defense minister and 24,000 spectators.

The Fuji Firepower Review 2018, the GSDF’s largest annual live-fire drill, was held on Aug. 26 at the East Fuji Maneuver Area in Gotemba near the foot of Mount Fuji in the prefecture.

It was the first time for the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, which was established in March, to join the drill.

The drill was based on a scenario of Japanese troops being deployed to recover far-flung islands from enemy forces. It involved about 2,400 troops, 80 tanks and armored vehicles, 60 artillery shells and 20 helicopters and fighter jets.

The Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) 7 equipped with the latest defense technology and the Type 16 Maneuver Combat Vehicle demonstrated their ability to destroy enemy targets.

A vehicle installed with the Network Electronic Warfare System also joined this year’s training session. The drill for the first time dealt with “electronic warfare” over radar and wireless communication systems, reflecting the Defense Ministry’s emphasis on bolstering Japan’s ability to deal with attacks from both space and cyberspace.

The review of the National Defense Program Guidelines, which is scheduled to get under way toward the year-end, is expected to detail how to beef up those defense areas. The guidelines set the nation’s defense policy and defense capability over 10 years or so.

The spectators watched the action from the gallery while Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera inspected the drill at the training site.

The number of applications to view the drill was 28 times the number of available slots, according the government.

The drill cost about 600 million yen ($5.4 million), with ammunition accounting for more than 80 percent of the total.