Known as the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC this year involves 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel. Ahead of the announcement, the United States had disinvited China from RIMPAC, a move Beijing described as “unfortunate”. Four countries – Brazil, Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are participating in RIMPAC for the first time. The theme this year is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.” Participating nations and forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces, a media release from the US 3rd Fleet Public Affairs said.
Other countries participating in this year’s exercise include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, and the United Kingdom. Additional firsts include New Zealand serving as sea combat commander and Chile serving as combined force maritime component commander. This is the first time a non-founding RIMPAC nation (Chile) will hold a component commander leadership position.
This year will also feature live firing of a Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) from a US Air Force aircraft, surface-to-ship missiles by the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force, and a Naval Strike Missile (NSM) from a launcher on the back of a Palletized Load System (PLS) by the US Army. This marks the first time a land-based unit will participate in the live fire event during RIMPAC. RIMPAC 18 will also include international band engagements and highlight fleet innovation during an Innovation Fair, the media statement said. Hosted by Commander, US Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC 2018 will be led by Commander, US 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. John D Alexander, who will serve as combined task force (CTF) commander. Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm Bob Auchterlonie will serve as CTF deputy commander, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Hideyuki Oban as CTF vice commander. RIMPAC exercise began in 1971.