Malabar Exercise 2021: Indian, US, Japan and Australian navies have launched a sea phase of Malabar naval drills, which is to run until August 29, the Indian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
“MALABAR-21 would witness complex exercises including anti-surface, anti-air and anti-submarine warfare drill, and other maneuvers and tactical exercises. The exercise will provide an opportunity for participating navies to derive benefit from each other’s expertise and experiences,” the statement read.
The Indian Navy’s participation includes frigate Shivalik and corvette Kadmatt as well as P8I patrol aircraft.
The US Navy is represented by battleship Barry, replenishment oilers Rappahannock and Big Horn and P8A patrol aircraft.
The Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force is represented by helicopter carrier Kaga, destroyers Murasame and Shiranui, submarines and P1 patrol aircraft. Frigate Warramunga participates on Japan’s side.
Experts believe that with the presence of P-8 aircraft from all the nations, anti-submarine warfare could be the mos important mission of the Malabar Drills aimed at hunting Chinese submarines.
The #25th Ed of Ex #Malabar is being hosted by @USNavy in the #WesternPacific.
The Maritime Ex started in 1992 b/n #IndianNavy & #USNavy & has grown in complexity & members, @jmsdf_pao_eng
& @Australian_Navy, more on this in this video ⬇️.@SpokespersonMoD @MEAIndia pic.twitter.com/Chchb6Jas2
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 26, 2021
Earlier, the Indian defense ministry said that New Delhi would hold several bilateral drills, including with Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia, with the exercises set to take place in the region of Southeast Asia, the South China Sea and last more than two months.
Apart from that, the Indian navy will participate in the annual exercise with Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) partners in the western part of the Pacific Ocean, the ministry added.
The Malabar series was launched as bilateral India-US exercises in 1992. Japan joined the drills in 2015 and Australia in 2020. Australia joining the exercise was seen by some as a possible first step towards the militarization of Quad — an informal strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia and India — which is strongly opposed by Beijing.
Last year, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has stated – “We have always believed that interstate military cooperation should be auspicious to regional peace and stability,” Zhao told reporters when asked about the exercise.
According to experts, the decision to include Australia in last year’s exercises as an observer was made due to the border confrontation between India and China in the disputed border region of Ladakh. The inclusion of Australia in the Malabar drills is seen by some as a possible first step towards the militarization of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue