Last year India had invited the Royal Australian Navy to participate in Malabar
New Delhi: The maritime forces of India and its three Quad partners -- the United States, Japan and Australia -- on Thursday kicked off the first phase of the Malabar 2021 naval exercises in the Philippines Sea to challenge the muscle-flexing by China in the Indo-Pacific region.
Last year India had invited the Royal Australian Navy to participate in Malabar, making it a four-nation Quad exercise. China regards the four-nation Quad as an anti-China grouping.
This year’s exercises from August 26 to 29, is being hosted by the US Navy and will be held in two phases. The first phase is an opportunity for the four Indo-Pacific navies to operate together in the Philippines Sea to strengthen their skills in combined maritime operations, anti-submarine warfare operations, air warfare operations, live-fire gunnery events, replenishments at sea, cross-deck flight operations and maritime interdiction operations.
The Indian Navy ships INS Shivalik and INS Kadmatt and P-81 patrol aircraft are being commanded by Rear Adm. Tarun Sobti, Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Fleet. The US participants for the first phase include the Pacific Fleet’s top sub hunter, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52), naval special warfare forces, maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft from Task Force 72 and Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) Henry J. Kaiser-class underway replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204).
“Malabar 21 gives a wonderful opportunity to bolster our international partnerships,” said Cmdr Chris Gahl, commanding officer, USS Barry. “Our team is excited to demonstrate [anti-submarine warfare] capabilities and to collaborate alongside our Indo-Pacific partners and allies. The lessons and tactics we share will enhance our strength and capabilities in supporting the common vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Elements of the Royal Australian, Indian, Japanese and US maritime forces routinely operate together in the Indo-Pacific, fostering a cooperative approach toward regional security and stability.
The Malabar series of maritime exercises began in 1992 as a joint US-Indian naval exercise. In 2015, Japan joined Malabar as a permanent member. The 2020 edition saw the participation of the Royal Australian Navy. This year marks the 25th edition of Malabar, being hosted by the US Navy in the Western Pacific.