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Asia Minute: US regional military exercises stretch far beyond RIMPAC

U.S. F-35 conduct combined training with ROKAF
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U.S. Air Force and Republic of Korea Air Force F-35A Lighting II aircraft soar through the skies over Korea July 12, 2022 in a tight formation. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Trevor Gordnier)

The Rim of the Pacific military exercises are close to their halfway mark in and around Hawaiʻi. While RIMPAC’s focus is on the water, another set of military events is focusing on the skies over Asia.

The U.S. Navy continues to be busy in the waters around Hawaiʻi and California, as RIMPAC moves into its third week of operations.

Thirty-eight surface ships and four submarines from more than two dozen countries are taking part, but so are aircraft — the U.S. Navy says some 170 aircraft are part of the exercises.

U.S. forces have also been conducting air operations with allies and partners elsewhere in the Asia Pacific.

Last week, for the first time, South Korean and U.S. air forces staged joint exercises with stealth F-35A fighter jets — involving a total of 30 aircraft.

Earlier this month, more than 50 aircraft from the U.S. and Japan held joint drills over the Sea of Japan, the Pacific and the East China Sea.

That included U.S. Air Force and Navy planes.

The Army is also involved in regional training.

In May, U.S., Japanese and Australian forces trained together in the northeastern state of Queensland.

An expression used in each of these operations is the goal of maintaining a “free and open Indo Pacific” — a phrase first broadly popularized in 2016 by the late former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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