Amid high tensions with China, four nations including India began a joint naval exercise Tuesday in the Indian Ocean. For the first time in 13 years, Australia has joined the US and Japan in the annual exercise, called Exercise Malabar 2020.
The decision to include Australia comes at a time when India and China are engaged in their worst border tensions in four decades. With the coming together of the navies of four major nations, China has shown suspicion over the exercise in the Indo-Pacific region.
Earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing in Beijing that “we hope that relevant countries’ military operations will be conducive to peace and stability in the region instead of working in the opposite way.”
Read more: Eyeing China, Australia joins ‘quad’ drill with US, Japan, India
The Malabar series of exercises began as an annual bilateral naval exercise between India and the US in 1992. Japan joined in 2015 and Australia had not participated since 2007.
The joint operations by the four countries, which also form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the QUAD, will be centered around the Vikramaditya Carrier Battle Group of the Indian Navy and the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group of the US Navy.
On 17 NOV, the phase 2 of a multilateral exercise “MALABAR 2020” has kicked off !
JS MURASAME (DD 101)🇯🇵 is conducting various tactical exercises with HMAS BALLARAT🇦🇺, INS VIKRAMADITYA Carrier Battle Group🇮🇳 and USS NIMITZ Carrier Strike Group🇺🇸.#FreeandOpenIndoPacific pic.twitter.com/tQd5zqCmuw
— Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (@jmsdf_pao_eng) November 18, 2020
The two carriers, along with other ships, submarines and aircraft of the participating navies, will be engaged in high-intensity naval operations that include cross-deck flying operations and advanced air defense exercises by MIG-29K fighters of the Vikramaditya and F-18 fighters and E2C Hawkeyes from the Nimitz.
“Advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, seamanship evolutions and weapon firings will also be undertaken to further enhance interoperability and synergy between the four friendly navies,” the Indian Navy said in a statement.
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The first phase of the exercise concluded on Nov. 6.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk