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India, Australia, Japan, US All Set For 2nd Phase Of Malabar Naval Exercise With Aircraft Carriers

New Delhi: India, Australia, Japan and the US are all set for the second phase of the Malabar naval exercise with aircraft carriers battle groups in Northern Arabian Sea from Tuesday. It is the second phase of Malabar exercise in the Indian Ocean Region. The exercise will commence from November 17 and continue till November 20.

The first phase of Malabar exercise was conducted in the Bay of Bengal from November 3 to November 6.

The Malabar series of exercises, which began as an annual bilateral naval exercise between India and the US in 1992, has seen increasing scope and complexity over the years.

The exercise will highlight enhanced convergence of views among the four vibrant democracies on maritime issues, and showcase their commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order.

The exercise will witness joint operations, centred around the Vikramaditya Carrier Battle Group of the Indian Navy and the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group of the US Navy.

The two carriers, along with other ships, submarine and aircraft of the participating navies, would be engaged in high-intensity naval operations over four days.

“These exercises include cross-deck flying operations and advanced air defence exercises by MIG 29K fighters of Vikramaditya and F-18 fighters and E2C Hawkeye from Nimitz,” Commander Vivek Madhwal told IANS.

In addition, advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, seamanship evolutions and weapon firings will also be undertaken to further enhance inter-operability and synergy between the four friendly navies.

Apart from Vikramaditya and its fighter and helicopter air-wings, indigenous destroyers Kolkata and Chennai, stealth frigate Talwar, Fleet Support Ship Deepak and integral helicopters will also participate in the exercise, led by Rear Admiral Krishna Swaminathan, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet.

“Indigenously built submarine Khanderi and P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft of the Indian Navy will also showcase their capabilities during the exercise,” the officer said.

US Navy’s Strike Carrier Nimitz will be accompanied by cruiser Princeton and destroyer Sterett in addition to P8A maritime reconnaissance aircraft. The Royal Australian Navy will be represented by frigate Ballarat along with its integral helicopter. The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force will also participate in the exercise.

Significance Of Malabar Exercise With Quad

Submarine INS Vagir was launched in the middle of the significant Malabar maritime exercise which India is conducting with the Quad navies-Australia, Japan and the US. Of these, Australia joined the Malabar exercise for the first time this year.

An immediate and strategic reason for the induction of Australia into the Malabar exercise was to strengthen this four-nation alliance in the Indo-Pacific region. India, along with a number of other countries from across continents, has been watching Chinese expansionism and aggression with concern. This extends to not just countries with land borders but also that share waters with China in the East China and South China Seas, where the communist giant has been extending itself into the exclusive economic zones of countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and others.

In a press release early November, the Indian Navy had said that the Malabar exercise will be held in two phases, of which, “Phase 1 would witness complex and advanced naval exercises including surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations, cross deck flying, seamanship evolutions and weapon firing exercises.” The Phase 1 exercise was held in the Bay of Bengal, away from the Visakhapatnam coast, and concluded on November 6.

The four navies will perform complex and advanced exercises including surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations, cross deck flying, seamanship evolutions and weapon firing exercises. The Phase 2 of the Malabar maritime exercise will be held in the Arabian Sea-on the western coast of India.

(Nitesh Kumar Sahoo With Agency Inputs)

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