India, US and Japan will be starting their joint naval exercise today, off the Chennai coast and is likely to be concluded on the 17th of July. As per a statement released by the Indian Navy, all vessels participating in the exercise have arrived and have been anchored near Chennai. Moreover, three defence forces flag officers have also held a formal meeting about the exercise yesterday. The three-nation exercise is likely to include anti-submarine warfare,  search and rescue and seizure missions and many other drills and familiarization with inter-operability between the three maritime forces.

INS Vikaramaditya is participating in the exercise for the first time. It will be joining USS Nimitz supercarrier and Japan’s Izumo-class helicopter carrier.  USS Nimitz, incidentally, is the world's largest carrier that joins the annual exercise. 

The Malabar Exercise first started as an Indo-US bilateral bilateral naval drill in 1992. Japan, however, formally joined as a permanent participant in 2015. In 2007, the exercise also included vessels from Singapore and Australia. All the three nations had already clarified that the Malabar series is not aimed at one particular country. It, however, engages countries to deepen their strength and understanding of each other. This also deepens defence relations. 

Things to know about the exercise

  • While Japan has been participating in the exercise regularly since 2007, the three countries held their largest-ever joint exercise last year, which involved 11 vessels and 8,000 personnel.
  • The participating ships- India's Vikramaditya, Japan's copter Izmuo and US's USS Nimitz weighed 44,570 tonne, 27,000-tonne and 100,000 tonne respectively. 
  • One of the main aims of this 21st edition of Malabar exercise is "submarine hunting". India and US have deployed their Poseidon-8 long-range maritime patrol aircraft. Japan will also deploy a new Japanese warship, which can carry 9 helicopters, also meant for anti-submarine warfare.
  • The anti-submarine warfare comes in the wake of an increase in the number of Chinese warships and submarines entering the Indian Ocean region. Indian and Chinese troops have also clashed on Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction since mid-June. China and Japan have also been clashing over the exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea. 
  • India-US strengthen partnership: This marks the beginning of a defence partnership between the two countries. It is to be noted that US is now one of the top three arm suppliers to India. Dislodging Russia, the sale of arm supplies from US have gone up to $15 billion since 2007.
  • The exercise will include on-shore and off-shore training. On-shore training will include subject matter expert and professional exchanges on carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare, medical operations, damage control, explosive ordnance disposal, helicopter operations, and visit, board, search and seizure operations, said a press release from Commander, Task Force 70 Public Affairs. Off-shore exercise in the Bay of Bengal will include communication, air defence exercises, medical evacuation drills and anti-submarine warfare.