The second phase of Malabar Drills will be conducted in mid-November, off the coast of Goa in the Arabian Sea. The US Navy, which already has the super-carriers, Nimitz, in the Gulf, and Ronald Reagan in the Bay of Bengal, will undertake drills with the INS Vikramaditya besides warships from Japan and Australia.
USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is heading to the annual Malabar exercise to drill with an Indian aircraft carrier after spending nearly two months in the Persian Gulf. A Navy spokesperson confirmed to USNI News that Nimitz is still operating within the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility in the Gulf of Oman, but is sailing to the Indian-led naval exercise.
USS Nimitz will undertake training drills with the Indian warship – INS Vikramaditya which is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier and the flagship of the Indian Navy.
#Malabar_20 Phase I
High tempo of ops involving @indiannavy platforms & @jmsdf_pao_eng @Australian_Navy @USNavy ships. Wpn firings, cross deck ops, anti-air, anti-sub & surface warfare drills culminating with advanced #WaratSea #Exercise.#Interoperabilityhttps://t.co/8fULxrSYTC pic.twitter.com/jqgjzgXm1x
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) November 7, 2020
The exercise is conducted in the backdrop of rising tensions with China. All the four Quad countries are facing hostilities from China and have hastened the cooperation after officials from the member countries met in Tokyo on October 6.
USS Nimitz, one of the largest warships in the world, will be seen with the F-18 Superhornet on board. The enormous carrier has a capacity of 6,000 personnel (crew and aircrew) and has a displacement of 102,000t. It was the biggest carrier in the world until USS Gerald R Ford was commissioned in 2017.
Named after Chester W. Nimitz, a commander of the US’ Pacific Navy aircraft fleet, the USS Nimitz was the first vessel to be launched under the Nimitz class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and use nuclear power as a propelling power force rather than the more traditional vessel-propelling fuels.
The flight deck is 333m x 77m and has four lifts, four steam-driven catapults, and four arrester wires. It is capable of launching one aircraft every 20 seconds.
Built by Newport News Shipbuilding Company (now Northrop Grumman Ship Systems), the Nimitz class warships are proficient of cruising at a speed of more than 30kt, and boards 3,184 personnel, 2,800 aircrews, and 70 flags according to Marine Insight.
The US super-carrier has a flight deck area of whopping 4.5 acres and the actual air-deck of Nimitz class flagship measures 333 meters by 77 meters, while the runway length of the vessel is 300 feet.
The air-space on the super-carrier can be customized according to the nature of the combat mission. Additionally, the aircraft carriers of this class feature the angled flight decks with a CATOBAR arrangement, which helps operates the aircraft with steam catapults and arrestor wires for launch and recovery.
With a much spacious flight deck, the Nimitz-class carriers can accommodate an air wing with around 90 aircraft, including F/A-18E, F/A-18F Super Hornets, F/A-18A and F/A-18C Hornets. Furthermore, USS Nimitz has unlimited firing range and have state-of-the-art radar and other sensory defense systems in place for anti-aircraft warfare and missile defense.
Under an inter-governmental agreement signed in 2004, India received the Admiral Gorshkov’s hull for free but on condition of its upgrade at the Sevmash Shipyard and its outfitting with Russian-made aircraft.
#Warships sustain prolonged deployments at sea by receiving fuel, ammunition & stores while "underway".
Underway Replenishment (#UNREP)
a complex Seamanship manoeuvre – looks like a walk in the park – as #INSShakti simultaneously refuels warships during #Malabar_20. pic.twitter.com/HgXArixumc
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) November 6, 2020
After its upgrade, INS Vikramaditya displaces 45,000 tonnes and possesses a state-of-art flight deck and a ski-jump for aircraft take-offs, navigation and radar systems, communications and aircraft control technology and also other special equipment and assemblies. The aircraft carrier will have the Russian MiG-29K on board.
The MiG-29K cannot carry out cross decking, that is, share the American carriers to host the aircraft, as they require a ski-jump, while USS Nimitz provides a catapult. However, it will be interesting to see how American fighters use INS Vikramaditya.
“Training with the Indian Navy allows US Navy aircrews deployed aboard the Nimitz to get a first-hand account of what Russia’s latest multi-role naval fighter is capable of—and an opportunity to record its electronic signatures,” Tyler Rogoway of The Drive stated after the Malabar Exercise 2017.
“Likewise, the Indian Navy got to see how America puts its advanced carrier air wing to use, and the advantages of catapults up close.”
The Indian Navy is again looking to expand its fleet by adding 57 aircraft carrier-borne fighters and the F-18 is a hot contender in the race. The Malabar exercise will provide a platform for the Indian Navy to observe how the Russian beasts can take on the American Hornets from their respective aircraft carriers.