Biennial drill Kakadu wraps up in Darwin

Australia’s largest maritime exercise has wrapped up in the Top End, following an intensive two weeks of realistic and challenging engagements from the air and the sea.

The Exercise Kakadu 2018 multinational fleet in formation off the coast of Darwin. Photo: RAN

This year, a total of 23 ships, 21 aircraft, a submarine and 3,000 personnel from 27 visiting nations participated in the exercise.

“The exercise provided a useful opportunity to work with naval forces from across the Indo-Pacific and promote greater levels of regional military cooperation,” Christopher Pyne, Australian defense minister, said.

Held every two years, Exercise Kakadu is hosted by the Royal Australian Navy and supported by the Royal Australian Air Force. This was the fourteenth iteration of Exercise Kakadu, having begun in 1993 and most recently conducted in 2016.

Participants, split into three task groups, tested their ability to work together in a range of scenarios including live fire, air defense, navigation, refueling, ship-to-ship communications, as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief activities.

Kakadu also saw several South-Pacific nations conduct activities focused on patrol boat capabilities, designed to increase regional interoperability.

“The attendance of Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Fiji and Timor-Leste was particularly pleasing, providing an opportunity to strengthen patrol boat interoperability and people-to-people links,” Pyne added.

Participating nations included Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Vietnam.