Malabar Naval Exercise: Australia, India, Japan and US commences the naval exercise in Bay of Bengal

The Malabar Naval Exercise will be displaying the high level of coordination between the navies of four powerful nations based on their commitment and shared values to an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific as well as international order which is rules-based.

Nov 4, 2020 14:24 IST

The navies of Japan, India, the US, and Australia on November 3, 2020, started the first phase of four days long Malabar Naval Exercise in the Bay of Bengal. The 24th edition of the naval exercise has been scheduled in two phases in November 2020. 

The Malabar Naval Exercise will be displaying the high level of coordination between the navies of four powerful nations based on their commitment and shared values to an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific as well as international order which is rules-based. 

The first phase of the Malabar Exercise will continue till November 6, 2020. It will witness the complex and advanced naval exercises which include cross-deck flying, surface, anti-air warfare, and anti-submarine operations, weapon firing exercises, and seamanship evolutions. 

Key Highlights:

It will be the first time that the Malabar exercise will be seeing the participation of all the four QUAD countries- Japan, India, Australia, and the US.

In phase one the Indian Navy participation is being led by Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan.

The first phase will see the participation of Indian Navy units along with Her Majesty's Australian Ship Ballarat (long-range frigates) along with integral MH-60 helicopter, United States Ship John S McCain (guided-missile destroyer), and Japan Maritime Self Defence Ship Onami (destroyer) along with SH-60 Helicopter.

The Annual Malabar Naval Exercise will be held in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal in two phases in November 2020.

The Malabar Naval Exercise 2020 has been planned on a ‘non-contact-at sea format’.

The Naval exercise between Australia, Japan, India, and the US will be strengthening the coordination between the navies of the participating countries.

As per the joint statement released by the ministry, Australia had last participated in the Malabar exercise in 2007.

Australia joining the Malabar Exercise:

The Defence Minister of Australia, Linda Reynolds had earlier informed that Australia will be joining the Malabar Naval Exercise involving India, the US, and Japan. She added that the drill will be a milestone opportunity for the Australian Defence Force.

The Australian Defence Minister while talking about the major development noted that the exercise will be showcasing the deep trust between four major Indo-pacific democracies as well as their shared will of working together on the common security interests.

According to the statement released by the Defence Ministry, as India seeks increased cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain, Malabar 2020 will be seeing the participation of the Australian Navy.

The significant development that comes amid the India-China border standoff also reflects a major diplomatic move as Australia’s participation with India, Japan, and the US in the Malabar Naval exercise will also be the first military-level engagement between the grouping of four-member nations- Quad.

What is the significance of the Malabar exercise for the participating nations?

The countries participating in Malabar 2020 Naval Exercise have been engaging to enhance the security and safety in the maritime domain as they all collectively support open, free and inclusive Indo-pacific and are also committed to a rule-based international order.

According to Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, high-end military exercises such as Malabar are essential in enhancing Australia’s maritime capabilities. It also demonstrates collective support to an open and prosperous Indo-pacific and builds interoperability with close partners. Payne further added that the announcement was another significant step in India and Australia’s deepening relationship.

What is the Malabar Exercise?

It is a trilateral naval exercise that involves Japan, United States, and India as the permanent partners. Malabar naval exercise originally began between India and the United States as a bilateral exercise in 1992 and Japan became a permanent member in 2015. Other non-permanent participants in the exercise include Singapore and Australia.

As the annual naval exercise began in 1992, it includes diverse forms of activities. It ranges from fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers through the Maritime Interdiction Operations exercises.

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