Phase 2 of Malabar naval exercise to commence on November 17

This is the first time in over a dozen years that the four countries, India, US, Japan and Australia, are participating in such a large war-gaming naval exercise.

The second phase of the multilateral naval exercise Malabar, in which India, US, Japan and Australia are participating, will be held in the Arabian Sea from November 17 to November 20. This is the first time in over a dozen years that the four countries are participating in such a large war-gaming naval exercise.

The first phase was conducted off the Visakhapatnam shore earlier this month. The exercise involves aircraft carriers, fighter jets, submarines and other ships participating together.

“The second phase of Exercise Malabar 2020 will be conducted in the Northern Arabian Sea from 17 to 20 November 2020,” the Navy said, adding that it will take “forward the synergy achieved in the recently concluded Phase 1 of Exercise Malabar 2020, which was conducted in the Bay of Bengal” from November 3 to November 6.

“This phase will involve coordinated operations of increasing complexity between the navies of Australia, India, Japan and the United States,” the Navy said.

The four participating nations are also members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad, and their coming together for a major war-gaming exercise sends a strong message to China at a time when India and China are involved in an over-six-month military standoff in eastern Ladakh.

The second phase, the Navy said, “will witness joint operations, centered around the Vikramaditya Carrier Battle Group of the Indian Navy and 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. 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 INS Vikramaditya and its fighter aircraft and helicopter air-wings, the Navy mentioned that “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”.

The indigenously built submarine Khanderi and Navy’s P8I maritime reconnaissance Poseidon aircraft will also showcase their capabilities during the exercise.

American Navy’s Strike Carrier Nimitz “will be accompanied by cruiser Princeton and destroyer Sterett in addition to P8A maritime reconnaissance aircraft” and “Royal Australian Navy will be represented by frigate Ballarat along with its integral helicopter”. Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, the Japanese Navy, will also participate in the exercise, the statement said.

The Malabar series of exercises, which began as an annual bilateral naval exercise between India and the US in 1992, said, the Navy, “has seen increasing scope and complexity over the years” and the current, 24th edition, “highlights enhanced convergence of views amongst the four vibrant democracies on maritime issues, and showcases their commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order”.

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