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Malabar Exercise 2020 Kicks Off Today: Facts to Know

F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets and E-2D Hawkeye plane are seen during joint military exercise called Malabar with US, Japan and India participating, off Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa, Japan. (Reuters)

F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets and E-2D Hawkeye plane are seen during joint military exercise called Malabar with US, Japan and India participating, off Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa, Japan. (Reuters)

Malabar Exercise is a multilateral naval exercise with India, United States and Japan as the permanent partners.

Phase 2 of the 24th edition of Malabar Naval Exercise kicks off today on November 17. It will take place in the Arabian Sea. The first phase was successfully conducted between November 3 and 6 near Visakhapatnam coast in the Bay of Bengal.

What is Malabar Exercise?

Malabar Exercise is a multilateral naval exercise with India, United States and Japan as the permanent partners. The exercise includes simulated war games and several combat manoeuvres like anti-submarine warfare, amphibious operations, diving salvage operations, counter-piracy operations and anti–air warfare operations.

Over the years, the joint naval exercises have been carried around the Indian peninsular region, along the coasts of Japan and Philippines Sea.

Key points to know about the Malabar Exercise:

1. How it started?

The Malabar Exercise originally began in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the navies of India and the US. It was in 2007 that all the four Quad countries, which included Australia and Japan as well, took part in the exercise. Japan became a permanent member only in 2015, although it had participated four times before.

2. Inclusion of Australia

It is the first time since 2007 that Australia is a part of the exercise, completing the Quad involvement in this edition. The participation of Australia is crucial considering the strategic significance it bears, especially keeping China in mind, which has been overly aggressive in the South China Sea.

3. Message for China

The participation of all four Quad nations is likely to rile China. Recently, in a webinar, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said the Quad arrangement will ensure complete freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean Region and other oceans around, without fear of any nation unilaterally dominating the oceans.

China has maintained that they have no objection to such exercises as long as it is not directed at a third party.

4. Weapons on display

India will showcase its 44,570 tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, while Japan is bringing its 27,000-tonne helicopter carrier Izmuo. From the US, 100,000 tonne, the nuclear powered supercarrier USS Nimitz will feature.

5. Covid-19 impact

This year the Malabar Exercise is being carried out as a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ programme owing to the threat of Covid-19 pandemic. In usual circumstances, the exercises also feature ashore training.

first published:November 17, 2020, 13:24 IST