China will take part in the upcoming Rim of the Pacific Exercise for the second time despite ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, but the Pentagon is emphasizing the country’s representatives will be closely watched. The biennial exercise, which will kick off later this month in the waters near Hawaii, will include more than 40 ships and more than 200 aircraft, with thousands of service members from 27 nations participating. Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said he could not go into detail on the extent of the country’s participation in the exercise. The military will abide by US laws and regulations requiring protection of technology and tactics during the exercise, Davis said. “We’re aware of the concern over it,” he said. While the event is largely Navy-driven, there is a large US Air Force contingent with dozens of fighter and other aircraft launching for exercises from JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. China participated in RIMPAC for the first time in 2014 at the invitation of the US, bringing four warships and auxiliary ships. (See also: Airfield, Ops Surge at Hickam for RIMPAC.)
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."