New Delhi mulls upgrading Malabar naval drills into Quad war games

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 29 January 2020, 22:34 GMT]
New Delhi is considering to upgrade the trilateral naval exercise it annually conducts with the navies of the US and Japan to also include Australia this year, Times of India reported citing undisclosed sources on Wednesday. If Australia is involved, Malabar Exercise will mark the first time the “Quad” will come together for the “high-voltage combat manoeuvers on the high seas after a gap of 13 years,” Rajat Pandit of the TOI reported. China has been highly critical of Australia and India staging naval war games in the Indo-Pacific.

In September 2019, the 23rd Malabar Exercise was conducted off the coast of Sasebo in Japan, where naval frigates, aircraft and personnel from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, the Indian Navy and the US Navy took part in the war games.

The naval exercise involves high-end warfighting skills, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and antisubmarine warfare, helicopter operations and more.

This year, Malabar is scheduled to be held in the Bay of Bengal in July-August after the monsoons, the report further said.

The joint naval exercise began in 2002 and Japan was included as a permanent participant in 2015.

At the same time, India and Australia have been conducting separate bilateral and biennial maritime exercise, AUSINDEX, over the past four years.

In the meantime, The Hindu reported that Australia was intensifying its diplomatic engagement with New Delhi as the country wants India to rejoin the deliberations on ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

In November 2019, India opted out of the RCEP after seven years of negotiation of a free trade agreement.

Japan has also been pushing for India’s participation in the largest trading bloc covering half of the world population as it feared China would dominate the RCEP without India’s involvement.

Malabar exercise 2019:
[courtesy: Times of India, September 2019]

Bilateral naval exercise held between India and Australia in 2019:
[courtesy: Royal Australian Navy]

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External Links:
The Hindu: Australia to intensify engagement, new envoy likely to be India-hand O’Farrell
Times of India: India may invite Australia for Malabar naval exercise with US & Japan



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