Malabar exercise kicks off today in Bay of Bengal

The navies of India, United States, Japan and Australia will kick off the first phase of the Malabar exercise in the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday at a time of Chinese sabre-rattling in the Indo-Pacific region and military tensions with India in the eastern Ladakh theatre, officials said on Monday,
The 24th edition of the Malabar exercise is scheduled in two phases with the first phase set to kick-start off Visakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal from November 3-6, the Indian Navy said in a statement on Monday.(PTI file photo for representation purpose)
The 24th edition of the Malabar exercise is scheduled in two phases with the first phase set to kick-start off Visakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal from November 3-6, the Indian Navy said in a statement on Monday.(PTI file photo for representation purpose)
Updated on Nov 03, 2020 09:00 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent

The navies of India, United States, Japan and Australia will kick off the first phase of the Malabar exercise in the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday at a time of Chinese sabre-rattling in the Indo-Pacific region and military tensions with India in the eastern Ladakh theatre, officials said on Monday,

The 24th edition of the Malabar exercise is scheduled in two phases with the first phase set to kick-start off Visakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal from November 3-6, the Indian Navy said in a statement on Monday.

“Phase-1 of Malabar 20 will witness participation of Indian Navy units with United States Ship (USS) John S McCain (guided-missile destroyer), Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Ballarat (long-range frigate) with integral MH-60 helicopter, and Japan Maritime Self Defence Ship (JMSDF) Onami (destroyer) with integral SH-60 helicopter,” it said.

Indian and US aircraft carriers will not feature in the first phase and are likely to be deployed in the second phase of the exercise in the Arabian Sea in mid-November.

The Malabar exercises began in 1992 at a time when Chinese and American economic and even security association was close, said security affairs expert Rear Admiral Sudarshan Shrikhande (retd).

In the last 15 years, the security matrix has changed for several nations vis-a vis-China, and this includes most ASEAN countries and the four Quad countries, he said.

“So, it does look like Malabar’s rejuvenation with four participants after 2007 will have a significance that is different from decades ago. It is an important step to build operational compatibilities that contribute towards deterrence against an expansionist China. At the same time, bilateral ties between armed forces of all four members would also continue to be important,” Shrikhande said.

Led by Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan, Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Fleet, the Indian participation in the first phase of the drills will include destroyer INS Ranvijay, frigate INS Shivalik, off-shore patrol vessel INS Sukanya, fleet support ship INS Shakti and submarine INS Sindhuraj, the Indian Navy said.

“In addition, advanced jet trainer Hawk, long-range maritime patrol aircraft P-8I, Dornier maritime patrol aircraft, and helicopters will also be participating in the exercise,” the statement added.

China has been wary of the Quadrilateral security dialogue, or Quad, that was revived in late 2017 by India, the US, Australia and Japan, and these suspicions have increased since the four countries upgraded the forum to the ministerial level last year.

The first phase would witness complex and advanced naval exercises, including surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations, cross-deck flying and weapon firing exercises, officials said.

The exercise comes after the Quad Foreign Ministers meeting in Tokyo on October 6 and follows the India-US 2+2 dialogue on October 26-27.

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Monday, November 29, 2021