In face of rising tensions with Iran, Israel will participate – for the first time – in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational naval exercise led by the US 3rd fleet off of the coast of Hawaii and Southern California later this month.
RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, will be be held from June 27 to August 2nd and will see the participation of 26 nations, 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel.
“As part of the efforts to maintain its competence and develop its capabilities, the Navy takes part in international exercises regularly. In the coming weeks, Israel’s naval arm is expected to participate in the RIMPAC exercise, one of the largest exercises in the field of naval warfare,” read a statement provided to The Jerusalem Post by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
With the theme of RIMPAC 2018 being “Capable Adaptive Partners,” the drill will work to increase multi-national cooperation and trust as well as enhance interoperability of troops.
Israel will be joining other first-time participants Brazil, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Other countries participating in RIMPAC 2018 are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga and the United Kingdom.
China was uninvited from participating due to its ongoing militarization of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
According to the US Navy RIMPAC will focus on a wide range of capabilities “critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans” with drills ranging from disaster relief to counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, air defense exercises to complex maritime warfare.
“Participating nations and forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces,” read a statement released by the US 3rd fleet.
“These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program includes amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as counter-piracy operations, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal, and diving and salvage operations.”
The combined live field training exercise will included tactical level and limited operational level training and will 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-Defense Force, and a Naval Strike Missile (NSM) from a launcher on the back of a Palletized Load System (PLS) by the US Army.
While Israel’s Navy is relatively small compared to other IDF corps it has a significant amount of territory to protect since the expansion of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from 40 miles to 150 miles four years ago.
Israel regularly participates in naval exercises with the United States such as the trilateral Noble Dina exercise between the US, Israeli and Greek navies as well as a joint IDF Special Forces and US Marines military exercise in the Negev Desert dubbed ‘Noble Shirley,’ which involved special units from the Israeli Air Force, Navy and ground forces.
Israeli Navy’s Salvage and Underwater Missions Unit also held a wide-ranging two-week drill in Haifa dubbed “Noble Melinda” with its counterparts from the US and France where the three navies drilled on scenarios involving naval mines, underwater demolitions and sea-based terror attacks.