Quad countries’ phase II of Malabar naval exercise to be in Arabian Sea

The first phase of the exercise -- the world’s largest war-gaming naval drill in over a decade -- was conducted off the Visakhapatnam coast from November 3 to 6

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India, US, Japan and Australia will take part in the second phase of the four-day Malabar naval exercise, this time in the Arabian Sea, starting Tuesday (November 17).

The annual drill includes activities ranging from fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers through maritime interdiction operations, anti-submarine warfare, diving salvage operations, amphibious operations, counter-piracy operations, cross-deck helicopter landings and anti-air warfare operations.

The first phase of the exercise — world’s largest war-gaming naval exercise in over a decade — was conducted off the Visakhapatnam coast from November 3 to 6.

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Navy said the second phase of Exercise Malabar 2020 will be conducted in the Northern Arabian Sea from November 17 to November 20. A press statement issued by the Indian Navy said, “The exercise will take forward the synergy achieved in the recently concluded Phase 1 of Exercise Malabar 2020, which was conducted in the Bay of Bengal between November 3 and November 6.”

The second phase of the Malabar exercise will involve “coordinated operations of increasing complexity between the navies of Australia, India, Japan and the United States”. The four countries are also members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad.

The coming together of Australia, India, Japan and the United States for a war-gaming exercise of this stature serves the purpose of a warning to China at a time when India and China are engaged in an prolonged military standoff in 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.”

In addition to INS Vikramaditya and its aircraft, the naval exercise will showcase indigenous destroyers Kolkata and Chennai, stealth frigate Talwar, Fleet Support Ship Deepak and integral helicopters. Besides, indigenously built submarine Khanderi and Navy’s P8I maritime reconnaissance Poseidon aircraft will also be on display.

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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”.

For Japan, Maritime Self Defense Force and the Japanese Navy will participate in the exercise.

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Exercise Malabar is a quadrangular naval exercise involving the United States, Japan, India and Australia, which joined only this year. Originally begun in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between India and the United States, Japan became a permanent partner in 2015.

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