Japan, the United States and Australia are considering sending their vessels carrying aircraft to the Philippines to conduct a trilateral naval drill next week in the South China Sea, sources close to the matter said Friday.

The planned exercise set for Wednesday comes amid mounting tensions between China and the Philippines after a Chinese coast guard vessel fired a water cannon at a Philippine military-chartered boat near the Manila-controlled Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea earlier this month.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has decided to send its largest destroyer, the Izumo, which is set to become a de facto aircraft carrier after undergoing additional renovation slated to begin next year or 2025, according to the sources.

The Royal Australian Navy will deploy its amphibious assault ship Canberra, while the U.S. Navy is expected to send its amphibious assault ship America, the sources said.

Through the envisaged joint exercise, including aircraft takeoff and landing practices using the decks of the three ships, the United States and its security allies aim to show commitment to upholding "freedom of navigation," according to the sources.

The Izumo plans to make a port call next Friday at Manila, the sources said.

File photo taken on Nov. 6, 2022, shows the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's largest destroyer, the Izumo, in Sagami Bay off Kanagawa Prefecture.

The Philippine forces have "canceled" their participation in the joint drill since the three other nations' aircraft are too large to land on the decks of Philippine warships, according to the sources.

Instead, commanders from the four countries may gather in the Philippine capital to send a "strong message," the sources said.

The four countries have been considering conducting joint maritime patrols by their vessels in the sea along with the naval drill, but the plan could not be finalized, according to the sources.

Facing Beijing's increasing military pressure and assertive activities in the South China Sea, Manila has been focusing on boosting security cooperation with Tokyo, Washington and Canberra.

Japan, the United States, Australia and the Philippines held their first-ever defense ministerial meeting in June in Singapore, agreeing to strengthen security cooperation to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Claiming sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, China has rapidly built artificial islands with military infrastructure in the waters, home to some of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

In February, the Chinese coast guard aimed a military-grade laser at a Philippine patrol vessel in waters near the Second Thomas Shoal.

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