India, Japan, and U.S. are all set to hold the annual Malabar trilateral naval war game off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea from June 6-15. The coming joint military exercise has come at a time of increased friction between China and the U.S. along with the nations bordering South China Sea as Beijing militarizes reclaimed islands.
The U.S. has recently renamed its Pacific command as Indo-Pacific command to stroke its commitment to the region in line with its Indo-Pacific strategy.
“Training will focus on high-end war fighting skillsets, subject matter expert and professional exchanges, combined carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare, medical operations, damage control, helicopter operations and visit, board, search and seizure operations,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.
Indian Navy is sending indigenous stealth frigate INS Sahyadri, anti-submarine corvette INS Kamorta, fleet tanker INS Shakti and P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft.
However, India’s sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which has participated in Malabar earlier, will miss action year as it is currently undergoing scheduled refit.
Japan is deploying its helicopter carrier JDS Ise along with Soryu class conventional submarines and Kawasaki P-1 aircraft maritime patrol aircraft.
The U.S. is sending its aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan along with strike complement of destroyers, support ships and nuclear attack submarines in addition to P-8A maritime patrol aircraft.
What is trilateral Malabar Naval exercise?
Exercise Malabar is a joint trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners. Originally, this joint naval exercise was a bilateral exercise between India and the United States; Japan joined in 2015 as a permanent partner and it was renamed as trilateral Malabar Naval exercise.
The annual Malabar series began in 1992 and includes diverse activities, ranging from fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers through Maritime Interdiction Operations Exercises.
The Malabar naval exercise has taken place every year since 1992, except for a brief glitch in the late 1990’s, post Pokhran II period. The US renewed their ties with India post 9/11 attacks after India joined President George W. Bush’s campaign against global terrorism.