RIMPAC to showcase maritime might, China to launch third aircraft carrier

Source : Hindustan Times

RIMPAC to showcase maritime might, China to launch third aircraft carrier
RIMPAC 2022 will be biggest war game in a generation with 25000 personnel and across 17 time zones in the backdrop of Chinese and Russian belligerence.

India is sending a stealth frigate and a P8I anti-submarine warfare reconnaissance aircraft for 26 nation biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise from June 29 to August 4 in the contested Indo-Pacific with exercises around Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

Hosted by the US Indo-Pacific Command, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine land forces, around 170 aircraft and 25000 personnel are expected to participate in the exercise including the QUAD nations, UK, France, and Germany.

The multilateral exercise comes at a time when China is expected to launch its third aircraft carrier (Type 003) this month as the Ukraine war has cast a long war shadow over Beijing’s objective of incorporating Taiwan using force. Last month, PLA Navy exercised off the coast of Okinawa by showcasing some 300 aircraft landing and take-off from first aircraft carrier Liaoning.

Sensing the threat to the region, Japan has decided to take key decisions to strengthen its security with Russia and China now routinely conducting war games in the Sea of Japan. While Japan is expected to conduct strategic review of its pacificist posture last this year, Tokyo is sending its biggest warship to the RIMPAC with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (the first Japanese PM to do so) expected to participate in the NATO summit later this month in Spain.

The dragging Ukraine war and the Chinese belligerence in the Indo-Pacific have woken up pacifist countries like Japan to the rising national security concerns. While India watches the economic and military cost of Ukraine war, Japan is expected to make its latest military technology available to countries like India after the strategic review is conducted. Already, Tokyo has doubled its defence budget as it knows that any attack on Taiwan by China will drag Tokyo into a response.

The threat perception in the Indo-Pacific has heightened with the Xi Jinping regime using its military and economic muscle to forge defence pacts with far Pacific Islands like Soloman, Kiribati and Vanuatu Islands in Oceania region. While the response to Chinese overtures made during Foreign Minister Wang Yi ten-day visit to Oceania has not been as per expectations of the Chinese Communists but it has raised alarm bells among the QUAD partners. The clear military objective of China in seeking military bases in Oceania is to bypass the first Island chain fencing the South China Sea and move into far Pacific to create security hurdles for the US Pacific Command as well as threaten the regional influence of Australia.

Just as India’s QUAD partners are building up to check any Chinese belligerence in the Pacific, India is also securing the Indian Ocean with its first aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya starting its patrols later this month after a major refit. India’s second aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is on sea trials and will be commissioned on August 15,2022.

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