Strategic signaling to China as QUAD navies participate in Ex-Malabar in Guam

By: |
August 26, 2021 2:36 PM

“In the sea phase of the exercises which started today (August 26-29, 2021) the Indian Navy is participating along with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF), the US Navy (USN), and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).”

Ex Malabar“Exercise Malabar demonstrates the synergy between the four participating navies and our shared vision for an open, free and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” the official statement stated. (Photo source: Indian Navy)

The 25th edition of Ex MALABAR-21 being hosted by the US Navy in Western Pacific would witness complex exercises including anti-air and anti-submarine warfare, tactical and anti-surface drills, and other manoeuvres. According to the Indian Navy, “In the sea phase of the exercises which started today (August 26-29, 2021) the Indian Navy is participating along with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF), the US Navy (USN), and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).”

In an official statement issued by the Indian Navy on Thursday, “Led by the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command Vice Adm AB Singh, the ships of the Indian Navy sailed from Guam and had participated in Operational Turn Around from August 21-24. During this phase, Vice Adm AB Singh exchanged views with his counterparts in the US Navy.”

“Exercise Malabar demonstrates the synergy between the four participating navies and our shared vision for an open, free and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” the official statement stated.

More about Ex Malabar

Led by Rear Admiral Tarun Sobti, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, besides the P-8I patrol aircraft, Shivalik-class multi-role stealth frigate INS Shivalik (F 47), and Kamorta-class anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kadmatt (P 29) have been deployed for the drill in the Philippine Sea.

Representing the JMSDF is Izumo-class multi-purpose operation destroyer JS Kaga (DDH 184), Murasame-class destroyers JS Murasame (DD 101) and JS Shiranui (DD 120). And JMSDF P-1 patrol aircraft.

Australia has deployed Anzac-class frigate HMAS Warramonga (FFH 152).

As reported earlier by Financial Express Online, the US Navy is being represented by three warships including destroyers, and maritime reconnaissance aircraft P-8A. These include Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) USS Barry, and Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) Henry J Kaiser-class underway replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204).

According to an official statement available on the US Embassy New Delhi website participating in the exercise are maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft P-8A from Task Force 72 and Naval Special Warfare forces.

Aim of Malabar

Besides the focus being on interoperability among the QUAD navies, it is a message to China that India is not alone. It is ‘Strategic Signaling’ of collectivism and the drill in which Australia is participating for the first time; the exercise can act as a counterweight to Chinese military and political influence in the region.

And the ultimate goal of joint naval manoeuvres in Malabar is demonstrating the collective capability of the QUAD navies in the maritime domain.

When did Malabar start?

In 1992, Malabar series of maritime exercises started in the bilateral format – Indian Navy and the US Navy. JMSDF joined Malabar in 2015 as a permanent member. This was followed by the Royal Australian Navy participating in the drill in 2020.

This is the second time that Malabar is taking place off the coast of Guam. The first time it was in 2018 when only the Indian Navy, the Japanese and the US Navy had participated.

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