|India has deployed multi-role stealth frigate INS Shivalik (above), anti-submarine corvette INS Kamorta and P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft for the drill |
New Delhi: The ‘Quad’ countries of India, the US, Japan and Australia have kicked off their top-notch Malabar naval exercise off Yokosuka near the East China Sea, with China’s aggressive moves in the Indo-Pacific figuring high on their radar screens.
India has deployed multi-role stealth frigate INS Shivalik, anti-submarine corvette INS Kamorta and a P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft for the 10-day Malabar exercise that will witness “advanced coordinated anti-submarine warfare” among other complex combat drills. The US has fielded nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville and Aegis guided missile destroyer USS Milius. Australia, in turn, is participating with Anzac-class frigate Arunta and tanker Stalwart, while Japan has helicopter-carrier Hyuga, destroyers Takanami and Shiranui, and tanker Oumi.
Multilateral Exercise Malabar 2022 b/w navies of India, Japan, US & Australia began with an opening ceremony hosted by JMSDF onboard JS Hyuga at Yokosuka, Japan. RAdm Sanjay Bhalla, FOCEF, led Indian delegation comprising Commanding Officers & crew of INS Shivalik & INS Kamorta. pic.twitter.com/IihPFwYuw0
— ANI (@ANI) November 9, 2022
The annual Malabar exercise, which started as a bilateral endeavour between India and the US in 1992, now includes Japan and Australia as regular participants.
China, which now has the world’s largest Navy with 355 warships and submarines, has in the past protested against the Malabar on the ground that the exercise is part of an effort by an axis of democracies to `contain’ it in the region.
The ‘Quad’ countries, on their part, have repeatedly declared their intent to deter any ‘coercion’ in the Indo-Pacific. “The four nations collectively support a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and remain committed to a rules-based international order,” an officer said.
The exercise’s opening ceremony was attended by Indian Eastern Fleet commander Rear Admiral Sanjay Bhalla, Japan’s Self Defense Fleet commander-in-chief Vice Admiral Yuasa Hideki, US Seventh Fleet commander Vice Admiral Karl Thomas and Australian Fleet commander Rear Admiral Jonathan Earley.