Amidst the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and recent missile tests carried out by North Korea, the 26th edition of Ex-Malabar with navies of QUAD member states – India, Japan, the US and Australia got underway in Yokosuka of Japan. The QUAD members share similar values of free, open and fair Indo-Pacific, the focus of the drill is on further enhancing interoperability and tactical capabilities in the future editions of Malabar.
Ahead of the commencement of the multilateral exercise Malabar, Indian Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar met up with the Navy chiefs of Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force, the Royal Australian Navy, and the US Navy. The four chiefs exchanged views deepening of relations as well as interoperability in multilateral drills like Malabar.
The Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar is visiting Japan from November 5-9 and he witnessed the IFR and the opening ceremony of Malabar exercise.
The multilateral naval exercise comes soon after the conclusion of the International Fleet Review (IFR) and the 18th Western Naval Pacific Symposium (WPNS), which was also hosted by Japan.
South Korea and Pakistan both participated in both IFR and WPNS. China which was invited for both events declined to participate in IFR but was present in the WPNS.
In the multilateral exercise which started on Nov 8 will go on till December 18 two ships including INS Shivalik and Kamorta have been deployed and also a P-8I aircraft and MARCOS (Marine Commandos).
From Japan side five warships and a surveillance aircraft have been deployed while the US has sent its Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, a P-8A long range surveillance aircraft and special operation force personnel and two other ships. The Royal Australian Navy has sent two warships and a P-8A aircraft along with Special Forces.
The four QUAD member countries will undertake replenishment at sea, Anti-Submarine Warfare and anti-air warfare exercises, among others.
The drill started between the four navies with an opening ceremony which was hosted by the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) onboard JS Hyuga at Yokosuka, and the Indian delegation which had commanding officers and crews of both the indigenously warships was led by RAdm Sanjay Bhalla, FOCEF.
While the Japanese side was led by VAdm Yuasa Hideki Commander in Chief, Self Defense Fleet JMSDF, RAdm Jonathan Earley, Commander Australian Fleet and VAdm Karl Thomas Commander, US Navy Seventh Fleet with their crew and personnel from their respective navies participated in the opening ceremony.
IFR & WPNS hosted by Japan: Free and Open Ocean
There were ten countries which participated in the “search and rescue” exercise as part of IFR including the Pakistan navy which was invited by Japan over the weekend. The IFR was conducted from Nov 6-7, 2022 and INS Shivalik and Kamorta participated.
Besides the JMSDF, other navies participating included India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Thailand, and the US. There were more than 30 warships and five surveillance aircraft. Due to poor weather conditions in the Philippines the UK navy was unable to participate.
And after skipping IFR, China, which is the full member, joined the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) in Yokohama. Since India holds the `observer’ status at the WPNS, Navy Chief Admiral Kumar participated. There were around 27 countries which participated in the symposium. Pakistan too holds the `observer status’.
Around 11 countries including India, Canada, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the US participated in IFR’s search and rescue exercise – which included fire-fighting and medical evacuation drills. And India was part of a group which had Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia navies.
According to reports this is the first time in 20 years Japan hosted the IFR in commemoration of 70th anniversary of the establishment of the JMSDF this year. Japanese PM Fumio Kishida inspected the fleets at the IFR on board JMSDF carrier JS Izumo.
With the US Navy present in regional waters and its bilateral drills with South Korea, “North Korea is definitely expected to react and show more aggression and will justify its missile tests in the Korean peninsula,” said a senior officer. China is already unhappy with the drill taking place in the region.