Malabar Naval Exercise Kicks Off in the Bay of Bengal
The navies of India, the United States, Japan, and Australia will conduct the exercise in the Bay of Bengal.
The first phase of the three-day quadrilateral naval exercise Malabar began on Tuesday, 3 November. The navies of India, the United States, Japan, and Australia will conduct the exercise in the Bay of Bengal.
The first phase of the Malabar will see naval exercises comprising of surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations, cross-deck flying and weapon firing operations.
This year’s Malabar exercise is being held at sea only and there will not be any land contact in the view of COVID-19 pandemic.
Indian Navy’s INS Ranvijay (destroyer) INS Shivalik (multi-role frigate), INS Sukanya (off-shore patrol vessel), INS Shakti (fleet tanker) and INS Sindhuraj (submarine) will be deployed during the exercise.
Malabar is a multilateral naval exercise. It started in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between the Indian and US navies. In 2015, Japan was inducted as a permanent member. On October 20 this year, it was announced that Australia, too, will again participate in the exercise. Australia last participated in the Malabar exercise in 2007.
As the exercises commenced, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin in a media briefing stated that China hopes that the relevant countries’ military operations will be conducive to peace and stability in the region instead of the contrary, PTI reported.
According to PTI, China has been suspicious about the Malabar exercise. The country feels that the annual exercise is an effort to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Australian defence minister Linda Reynolds said: “High-end military exercises like Malabar are key to enhancing Australia’s maritime capabilities, building interoperability with our close partners, and demonstrating our collective resolve to support an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” news agency PTI quoted.
Reynolds also stated that Malabar is an important opportunity to work in concert with like-minded nations to support a secure, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, reported ANI.
According to Reynolds, the Malabar 2020 has marked a milestone opportunity for the Australian Defence Force (ADF), PTI reported.
Following the 2+2 dialogue with the US, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said: “We… agreed that upholding the rules-based international order, respecting the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the international seas and upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states are essential. Our defence cooperation is intended to further these objectives. Both sides welcomed Australia joining the forthcoming Malabar Exercise.”
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat had said Quad is “a good arrangement”, which “will ensure, that the Indian Ocean Region and all other oceans around there is complete freedom of navigation, without fear of any other nation singularly trying to dominate the oceans”.
Phase two of the drill is scheduled to be conducted in the Arabian Sea in mid-November 2020.
The exercise is perceived as an indication of a united pushback against China’s increasingly aggressive stance at sea.
(With inputs from PTI)
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