China keeps a close watch as Malabar naval drill begins

RSTV Bureau

The Malabar exercise, , the annual naval war game, kick started in the Bay of Bengal on Monday. India, US and Japan’s frontline ships, submarines and fighter jets are participating in  the event.

India’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, Japan’s largest warship JS Izumo and USA’s super- carrier Nimitz of the US are set to be the highlight of the week-long drill.

VAdm HCS Bisht FOCinC (E) gets briefed about the Exercise on board INS Vikramaditya. Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ @indiannavy

VAdm HCS Bisht FOCinC (E) gets briefed about the Exercise on board INS Vikramaditya. Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ @indiannavy

The Malabar exercise sets out to achieve deeper military ties and greater inter-operability among the three navies in the strategically-important Indo-Pacific region.

China is keeping a close watch on the drill in the wake of a major military face-off between armies of India and China in the Sikkim sector.

China has deployed a surveillance ship to keep an eye on the the Malabar exercise while the Indian Navy has detected deployment of increasing number of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean Region.

Beijing is suspicious that the Malabar exercise is an effort to contain China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

USS Princeton, a Ticonderoga-class Cruiser entering Chennai for participating in Ex Malabar commencing on July 10, 2017. Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ @indiannavy

USS Princeton, a Ticonderoga-class Cruiser entering Chennai for participating in Ex Malabar commencing on July 10, 2017. Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ @indiannavy

American Navy’s guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton, guided-missile destroyers USS Howard and USS Shoup and USS Kidd will be part of the drill, as per a statement by the US Embassy. A P-8A Poseidon aircraft, designed for surveillance and anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare and a Los Angeles- class fast-attack submarine will also participate in the exercise.

The US Navy’s USS Nimitz is a supercarrier and one of the largest warships in the world.

The Indian Navy’s two Shivalik class multi-role frigates a Kora class missile frigate, two destroyes, P8I maritime surveillance aircraft, anti-submarine warfare corvettes, tanker INS Jyoti and nuclear submarine will also be part of the exercise, official sources said.

A major highlight of the drill, will be the participation of the over 44,000-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya with its Mig 29Ks onboard.

Japan is sending its carrier JS Izumo and destroyer JS Sazanami for the drill.

“Each iteration of this exercise helps to advance the level of understanding between our Sailors, and we hope to be able to continue this process over time….As members of Indo-Asia-Pacific nations, our maritime forces are natural partners, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our bonds and personal relationships,” the US Embassy said.

The exercise will cover activities like combined carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare. It will also include aspects like medical operations, damage control, special forces operation, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and helicopter operations.

(With inputs from PTI)