India, USA, Japan, Australia to hold joint naval exercise in Bay of Bengal from Nov 3

India, United States, Japan and Australia will hold a joint naval exercise from November 3 in the Bay of Bengal, appearing in it for the first time in a decade.

The Indian Navy, in a statement, said yesterday that the 24th edition of Malabar naval exercise is “scheduled in two phases in November. While the first phase involving participation by Indian Navy, United States Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defence Force and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is set to commence off Visakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal” from November 3 to November 6, the second phase will be held in the Arabian Sea in the middle of next month.

The Malabar series of maritime exercises had commenced in 1992 as a bilateral India-US event and Japan joined it in 2015. The 2020 edition will now witness participation of Australia, the Indian Navy said.

Australia’s presence for the first time is viewed with significance as all the four countries are members of a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with an eye on China with which India has been involved in a nearly six-month old military standoff in eastern Ladakh, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

The phase-1 of Malabar will see the US coming with a guided-missile destroyer, Australia with a long range frigate with integral MH-60 helicopter, Japan with a destroyer with integral SH-60 helicopter and India with a destroyer, frigate, off-shore patrol vessel, fleet support ship and a submarine, Sindhuraj.

The first phase “would witness complex and advanced naval exercises including surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations and weapon firing exercises,” the Indian Navy said.

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Malabar exercise will be conducted as a “non-contact, at sea only” event and “will showcase the high-levels of synergy and coordination between the friendly navies which is based on their shared values and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order,” the Indian navy said.

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