Four Pacific powers conduct ‘Malabar’ naval war games to deter China

NEW DELHI – The Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, member nations of Australia, Japan, India and the United States on Tuesday launched a new, four-day phase of the “Malabar” naval war games in the northern Arabian Sea, marking an informal strategic alliance to counter rising Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

The 24th edition of Malabar highlights enhanced convergence of views amongst the four democracies on maritime issues, and showcases their commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order, the Indian navy said in a statement.

The drill will have substantive geopolitical implications not only in the current China-India face-off, but also in the larger Indo-Pacific context where China is flexing its muscle, former Indian navy chief Adm. Arun Prakash said.

The exercise entails joint operations centered around the Vikramaditya Carrier Battle Group of the Indian Navy and Nimitz Carrier Strike Group of the U.S. Navy. The two carriers, along with other ships, submarines and aircraft of the participating navies, go through simulated high-intensity operations.

Also included are cross-deck flying operations and advanced air defense exercises by MIG 29K fighters of Vikramaditya and F-18 fighters and E2C Hawkeye aircraft from Nimitz. In addition, advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, seamanship evolutions and weapon firings will be undertaken to further enhance interoperability and synergy between the four navies.

The four navies previously conducted the first phase of the war games in the Bay of Bengal Nov. 3-6, conducting multiple complex drills including surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations, cross-deck flying, seamanship evolutions and weapon-firing.

The Malabar series of exercises, which began as an annual, bilateral naval exercise between India and the United States in 1992, has seen increasing scope and complexity over the years.

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