Japanese P-3C P-3C Orion surveillance plane will stop at bases of countries facing the East Sea, including Vietnam, on the way back home from anti-piracy activities off the coast of Somalia, according to media reports.
The decision was made by the Japanese Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces, according to The Yomiuri Shimbun.
Previously, the maritime patrol aircraft refueled at bases relatively far from the East Sea, in countries including Singapore and Thailand. Now the return trips will give priority to refueling at bases around the East Sea, such as those in Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.
The aircraft will also engage in defense-related exchange activities in the places visited, according to the report.
Last November, during a Vietnam visit of Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, the two countries agreed that Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Forces will visit Cam Ranh Bay, a strategic naval base in the East Sea this year.
According to the plan, the P-3C will stop at Cam Ranh and participate in goodwill exercises there next month.
The Philippines’ Palawan Island and Malaysia’s Labuan Island are also being considered as ports of call.
P-3C aircraft participate in multinational efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia. They travel back and forth between Japan and Africa about every three months.