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Malabar Naval Exercise Going from Strength to Strength in Recent Years

The 24th edition of the Malabar Naval exercise is taking off today in two phases. In phase 1 from November 03-06, we have a new guest and partner in the Bay of Bengal. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is participating for the first time. The Malabar naval exercise which started in 1992 with the participation of the Indian Navy (IN) and United States Navy (USN) has grown in strength in the last six years, as Japan Maritime Self Defence Force joined the exercise in 2015 and now the RAN also joining in.

Coming Together of Australia and Japan

The addition of Australia along with Japan has made the Malabar Naval Exercise a moment of reckoning. The recent developments related to China’s aggression which is not limited to the heights of Himalaya but even in the sea has set the alarm bells ringing among all the major powers in the Indo-Pacific region. Though the Malabar naval exercise is not an idea to group against anyone in the region, in the present context of China’s aggression it does signal the mighty grouping in which India plays a leading role.

Japan, another immediate neighbor to China often faces the aggression of the latter. Australia was a strong friend of China until the pandemic, and things took a rather ugly turn with the heated exchanges between the two nations recently.

It may be recalled that India and Australia entered into a strategic partnership in June 2020. How is this an important milestone? Because of the scope that both India and Australia have in maritime security and partnership in the Indo-Pacific region. The Straits of Malacca are near India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Australia’s islands are in proximity to the Indonesian straits of Sunda, Lombok, and Ombai-Wetar. Since these critical straits play a crucial role in the passing of maritime trade route, the coming together of India and Australia in strategic terms assumes global significance. You may read more in our article India’s Strategic Partnership with Australia – What It Means.

Malabar Naval Exercise – Key Features

Any joint exercise, for that matter, basically achieves a sync between the men and machines of different countries.

In the phase 1 of the Malabar naval exercise, complex and advanced naval exercises including surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations, cross deck flying, seamanship evolutions and weapon firing will take place.

It 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 frigates) with integral MH-60 helicopter, and Japan Maritime Self Defence Ship (JMSDF) Onami (Destroyer) with integral SH-60 helicopter.

Indian Navy units participating in the exercise will include destroyer Ranvijay, frigate Shivalik, Off Shore Patrol Vessel Sukanya, Fleet Support Ship Shakti and submarine Sindhuraj. In addition, Advanced Jet Trainer Hawk, long-range maritime patrol aircraft P-8IDornier maritime patrol aircraft, and helicopters will also be participating in the exercise.


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