Japan and the United States will conduct their first joint anti-ship combat drills during the U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational naval exercises in Hawaii from June 27 to Aug. 2, the Ground and Maritime Self-Defense Forces said Friday.

With the move, the GSDF and the MSDF hope to deepen cooperation with the U.S. military and strengthen the defense of the Nansei chain of remote islands.

As part the drills, the GSDF and the U.S. military will attack crafts acting as enemy battleships using surface-to-ship missiles and rocket artillery, respectively. This exercise will be guided by U.S. unmanned aircraft and MSDF patrol planes.

An amphibious unit from the GSDF will carry out a landing drill using AAV7 amphibious assault vehicles of the U.S. Marine Corps. The MSDF will conduct anti-submarine, missile and other drills. A total of about 630 GSDF and MSDF personnel will join the exercises.

RIMPAC, one of the world’s largest naval exercises, has taken place almost every two years since 1971. The 2018 event will be joined by 26 countries.

China has been part of RIMPAC since 2014, but the country was not invited to join this year’s event due to its militarization of the South China Sea.