Malabar exercise may take place in Japan next year

By: | Updated: July 17, 2018 12:48 AM

The next Malabar tri-lateral exercise is likely to be held in the Japanese waters in an apparent effort to deter China’s presence in the East China Sea and ensure a free navigation in the region.

Only in 2016, India and the US had agreed to allow Japan to become a permanent member in the naval drill that was in place since the 1990s. (Reuters)

The next Malabar tri-lateral exercise is likely to be held in the Japanese waters in an apparent effort to deter China’s presence in the East China Sea and ensure a free navigation in the region.

According to highly placed sources, “Discussions have been going on between the three countries — India, US and Japan — to conduct these exercises in Japan waters next year. A high level delegation from Japan is expected to be in India soon to firm up details and this will be on the table for final approval during the India-Japan annual summit in September.”

Only in 2016, India and the US had agreed to allow Japan to become a permanent member in the naval drill that was in place since the 1990s. Japan being part of the Malabar naval drills goes well with the US strategy of creating an alliance of like-minded nations in the Indo-Pacific to counter China’s rising military prowess.

The 22nd edition of the Malabar trilateral naval exercise kicked off last month off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea where naval ships, aircraft and personnel from India, Japan and the US participated. The exercise featured live aircraft carrier operations, air defence, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), joint manoeuvres and tactical procedures.

The joint statement issued at the end of bilateral India-Japan summit in 2017 stated that both sides agreed to “enhance defence and security cooperation and dialogues, including the MALABAR and other joint exercises, defence equipment and technology cooperation in such areas as surveillance and unmanned system technologies, and defence industry cooperation.”

According to US Indo-Pacific Command web page, “Each iteration of this exercise helps to increase the level of understanding between our sailors and interoperability between our three navies.”

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