India, US, Japan to begin Malabar drills: All you need to about the naval exercise in Indian Ocean

Updated on Jul 07, 2017 12:22 PM IST

The 10-day Malabar drills, started 23 years ago, begin on July 10 in the north Indian Ocean.

The annual Malabar naval drills are joint exercises by the US, India and Japan.(AFP File)
The annual Malabar naval drills are joint exercises by the US, India and Japan.(AFP File)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The United States, India, and Japan will kick off the annual Malabar series of naval drills in the north Indian Ocean on July 10 as the Chinese navy is making fresh efforts to expand its footprint in the area.

The 10-day Malabar drills will be bigger and more complex than all previous editions of the exercise that first took place 23 years ago to increase the interoperability between the Indian and US navies.

Here’s all you need to know about the exercise:

Which warships are taking part?

The US navy is fielding USS Nimitz, the world’s largest aircraft carrier. The Indian Navy’s solitary aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, and Japan’s Izumo-class helicopter carrier will also be among the 20-odd warships taking part in the exercise.

It will see the participation of guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton, guided-missile destroyers USS Howard, USS Shoup, and USS Kidd, a P-8A Poseidon submarine hunter plane, a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine and Japanese destroyer JS Sazanami.

Sources indicated that Indian warships at the exercise will include two Shivalik-class stealth frigates, two Ranvir-class destroyers, a Kamorta-class anti-submarine warfare corvette, a tanker and a submarine.

What areas will the exercise cover?

It will involve both ashore and at-sea training. Ashore training will include exchanges on carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations, a US navy statement said on Thursday.

It added that at-sea portions will cover professional exchanges and embarks, submarine familiarisation, air defence exercises, surface warfare drills, anti-submarine warfare, gunnery exercises and VBSS operations.

Who has taken part in the exercise?

India and the US kicked off Malabar exercise in 1994 and this will be the 21st edition of the drills. It was discontinued for a while after India conducted nuclear tests in 1998. It has traditionally been a bilateral exercise between India and the US.

However, Japan, Australia, and Singapore have also taken part in previous editions of the exercise. Japan has been a regular participant and will be represented in future editions too. The exercise is aimed at tackling a range of common threats to maritime security in the Indian Ocean. However, China has been suspicious of the trilateral engagement and has even lodged protests over Japan’s participation in the past.

“Indian, Japanese and US maritime forces have a common understanding and knowledge of a shared working environment at sea. Each iteration of this exercise helps to advance the level of understanding between our sailors, and we hope to be able to continue this process over time,” the US navy statement said.

The 2007 edition of the exercise in which Japan, Australia, and Singapore also took part involved 26 warships, over 175 aircraft and 20,000 personnel from five nations.

What is the significance of the exercise?

The latest edition comes at a time when the Chinese navy is making fresh efforts to expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean. China has traditionally monitored the Malabar exercise.

Beijing’s presence in the region has gone up significantly ahead of the exercise, with the Indian Navy sighting more than a dozen Chinese warships, including submarines, destroyers, and intelligence-gathering vessels, during the last two months. A Chinese intelligence gathering ship, Haiwingxing, sailed into the ocean in June-end, with strategic experts linking it to the upcoming exercise.

The Indian Navy has maintained the aim of such drills is to sharpen operational and doctrinal expertise, imbibe best practices and enhance maritime domain awareness through sharing of information and joint training. With the high seas vulnerable to terrorism, gunrunning, piracy and drug trafficking, better interoperability would help the participating navies counter threats more effectively.


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