A squadron of U.S. tilt-rotor combat aircraft will be dispatched to the northern Australian city of Darwin to take part in this year’s Marine Rotational Force.
The 10 Bell-Boeing V-22 Ospreys, also known as the Red Dragons, will be part of a contingent of thousands of marines who will be training with the Australian Defence Force.
“The Red Dragons are excited to join 5th Marines as part of the MRF-D 2022 rotation,” Lieutenant Colonel Vanessa Clark, the aviation combat element commanding officer said on April 18 in comments obtained by AAP.
“Honoured to be working hand in hand with the Australian Defence Force, the importance of the U.S.-Australia team cannot be overstated.”
The Osprey fleet follows the arrival of the U.S. Air Force’s largest aircraft, the 75-metre-long C-5 Super Galaxy, which arrived in Darwin in late March, as well as an earlier arrival of the B-2 Stealth Bomber.
The current seasonal exercises have been expanded to around 2,200 servicemen and will include 250 U.S. army personnel for the first time.
The initiative comes as part of a force posture to promote stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
“There is certainly a threat,” he told reporters on March 23. “Today in the Indo-Pacific, it hosts the most concerning security challenge that we have faced in a number of years.”
The admiral was referring to Beijing’s militarisation of three manmade islands in the South China Sea.
“They are full-fledged offensive bases,” he said. “Runways, hangers, barracks, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-ship missiles, jamming capability, hangers for fighter aircraft, bomber aircraft.”
The pact, if fully implemented, could open the door for the CCP to station troops, weapons, and naval ships in the South Pacific—extending the reach of the People’s Liberation Army beyond the South China Sea and into a strategically important region under 2,000 kilometres from the Australian coastline.
“That’s what their ultimate goal is, and they’ve shown in Africa and other parts of the world that where it seems like they’re coming with good intention—and then their coercive economic policies and practices ultimately [result in you being] owned by China. I don’t think anyone wants to be owned by China,” he said, in reference to the Belt and Road Initiative.
“All the drivers of instability, insecurity and even threats to national unity in Solomon Islands are entirely internal,” he said in a statement.
Wale called Solomons' Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare a “mercenary” of Beijing, and that he had longed for the day he could “exact revenge” on Australia—the prime minister has been a long-time critic of the country's involvement in the region claiming it was engaging in “colonialism.”
The opposition leader said “that day [of vengeance] has arrived, and he has gladly thrust his sword into Australia’s back. China is only too happy to oblige Prime Minister Sogavare, there is a meeting of minds on this.”