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The second phase of the exercises will be conducted in the northern Arabian Sea (Mint)
The second phase of the exercises will be conducted in the northern Arabian Sea (Mint)

Second phase of Malabar exercises to begin today

Warships from India, Japan, the US and Australia will engage in high-intensity operations during the second leg

NEW DELHI : India’s Vikramaditya Carrier Battle Group on Tuesday will join the US Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, and warships from Japan and Australia to engage in high-intensity operations during the second leg of the Malabar series of naval exercises, an Indian Navy statement said on Monday.

The second phase will be conducted in the northern Arabian Sea between 17 and 20 November, and will involve “coordinated operations of increasing complexity" between the navies of Australia, India, Japan and the US, it said. The first stage of the exercises took place in the Bay of Bengal on 3-6 November.

This is the first time that the navies of all four Quad countries are participating in a naval exercise, following the military standoff between India and China.

Beijing sees the Quad with suspicion and has denounced it as an attempt by the US to cobble up an “Asian NATO" or North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The navies of the four countries exercising together follows India green-lighting the participation of Australia in the Malabar exercises that first started in 1992 with the Indian and US navies. The Japanese navy was included in 2015.

New Delhi had earlier kept on hold calls by the US and Japan, besides Australia, to include the Australian Navy in the exercises. This was seen in deference to Chinese sensitivities.

The current exercise “highlights enhanced convergence of views among the four vibrant democracies on maritime issues, and showcases their commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order", the Indian Navy said.

The Vikramaditya Carrier Battle Group and the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, 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 and weapon firings will also be undertaken to further enhance inter-operability and synergy between the four friendly navies," it said.

Vikramaditya’s fighter and helicopter air-wings, indigenous destroyers of the Indian Navy, the INS Kolkata and Chennai, stealth frigate INS Talwar, Fleet Support Ship Deepak and integral helicopters will also participate in the exercise, it added.

Rear Admiral Krishna Swaminathan, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, will be leading the Indian side.

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