NEW DELHI – The navies of India, the United States, Japan and Australia resumed exercising Tuesday in the Northern Arabian Sea in the second phase of the Malabar drill involving the Indo-Pacific democracies that share concern over China’s growing assertiveness in the region.
“This phase will involve coordinated operations of increasing complexity between the navies of Australia, India, Japan and the United States,” India’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The drill “highlights enhanced convergence of views amongst the four vibrant democracies on maritime issues, and showcases their commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order,” it said.
The first phase, which took place Nov. 3-6 in the Bay of Bengal, featured advanced warfare tactics, including air defense and anti-submarine exercises, with a focus on boosting interoperability.
The second phase, which is scheduled for four days, will witness joint operations centered on the Indian Navy’s Vikramaditya carrier battle group and the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz carrier strike group.
“The two carriers, along with other ships, submarine and aircraft of the participating navies, would be engaged in high intensity naval operations,” the statement said.
“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,” it said.
In the exercise, Nimitz will be accompanied by cruiser Princeton and destroyer Sterett in addition to P-8A maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
The ministry also said the Royal Australian Navy will be represented by frigate Ballarat along with its integral helicopter. Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Murasame destroyer will also participate in the exercise.
The drill will include cross-deck flying operations and advanced air defense exercises by fighters of both Vikramaditya and Nimitz.
Malabar started in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between the Indian and U.S. navies. Japan joined in 2015.
This year also features the Australian navy’s participation for the first time since 2007.
Australian, Indian, Japanese and American maritime forces routinely operate together in the Indo-Pacific, while the United States and India have also deepened defense cooperation in recent years.