The multilateral war-gaming exercise Malabar, which saw the participation of all four member nations of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) for the first time since 2007, and included participation of carrier strike groups, submarines, fighter jets and other vessels, concluded on Friday.
The naval exercise was conducted in two phases, first off the Visakhapatnam coast earlier in November, and the second in the Arabian Sea, starting November 17.
The Navy said in a statement that the 24th edition of Malabar maritime exercise, “hosted by Indian Navy (IN) in two phases, concluded in the Arabian Sea” on Friday. “Phase 1 of the exercise involving participation by Indian Navy (IN), United States Navy (USN), Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN), was conducted off Visakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal” between November 3 and 6.
In the second phase, the Navy said, the four navies “participated in joint operations centered on the Vikramaditya Carrier Battle Group of the Indian Navy and Nimitz Carrier Strike Group of the US Navy”. The two aircraft carriers, it said, “along with other ships, submarine and aircraft of the participating navies, engaged in high intensity naval operations including cross-deck flying operations and advanced air defence exercises by MIG 29K fighters of Vikramaditya and F/A-18 fighters and E2C Hawkeye from Nimitz”.
US Navy’s Strike Carrier Nimitz was accompanied by cruiser Princeton and destroyer Sterett in addition to P8A maritime reconnaissance aircraft, and the Australian and Japanese navies were represented by frigate Ballarat and destroyer Murasame, respectively, along with their integral helicopters.
Beyond INS Vikramaditya, the Indian Naval Ships including the indigenous destroyers Kolkata and Chennai, stealth frigate Talwar, Fleet Support Ship Deepak and the integral helicopters of these warships, indigenously built submarine Khanderi and P8I and IL-38 maritime reconnaissance aircraft, also participated in the second phase in the Arabian Sea.
Mentioning some of the exercises that took place in both phases, the Navy mentioned that “in addition to ‘Dual Carrier’ operations, advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, seamanship evolutions and weapon firings were also undertaken… demonstrating the synergy, coordination and inter-operability between the four friendly navies”.
On November 5, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, without mentioning Malabar, had stated in an address at the National Defence College that India’s “interests to secure trade routes, shipping lines of communication, fishing rights and communication networks also require the ability to contribute to the global effort, to maintain open and free oceans.” He had said that it is “the essence of our initiative to be a part of the Indo-Pacific initiative”.
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