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India begins second phase of Malabar naval exercise with QUAD nations

Ships from the Indian Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force approach USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) during Malabar 2020. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda/U.S. Navy)
November 19, 2020

After completing the first phase of exercise in the Bay of Bengal during the first week of November, QUAD countries led by India took the second phase naval drill of Malabar on November 17 into action. With the U.S., Japan and Australian navies joining the major quadrilateral war games in the northern Arabian Sea, the exercise began with a great display of the behemoth formation of warships the world has ever seen outside RIMPAC.

The biggest highlight of the second phase was the joining of carrier groups of the US and Indian Navies. From the American side, USS Nimitz joined the war games with her task force. Meanwhile, India’s Navy sent her flagship carrier INS Vikramaditya and assisted warships with contingents being led by Rear Admiral Krishna Swaminathan, Flag Officer Commanding the Western Fleet.

Before the second phase, all four nations effectively carried out anti-air, anti-surface and anti submarine drills and simulation exercises by essentially sharing the critical expertise and increasing the synergy between navies during joint fleet formation in the bay of Bengal.

The war drills began with the joining of Royal Australian Navy Frigate HMAS Ballarat with Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force lead destroyer JS Murasame. Above them, the largest composition of ships was from the US and Indian Navy, in part from INS Vikramaditya, which sent destroyers INS Kolkata and INS Chennai with stealth frigate INS Talwar and fleet support ship INS Deepak in the exercise, while Nimitz was joined by Burke-class destroyer USS Sterett and Ticonderoga class Cruiser USS Princeton.

In the second phase, the magnitude of war drills will increase, ramming up numbers of ships and vessels joining the formation ahead, led by two dominating carrier task forces present in the Indian ocean. The current phase involved understanding and putting syncing of interoperability between carrier forces, and conducting various complex roles of air-to-air and air-to-surface, as well as air to the subsurface, underwater drill and various joint reconnaissance operative simulations, including the sharing of logistical experiences of carrier missions.

The Navy said that Indian and US carriers will perform cross-deck flying operations and advanced air defense exercises through Indian MIG 29K fighters of Vikramaditya and Boeing F/A-18 fighters and E2C Hawkeye from Nimitz of US Navy.

“This exercise is involving coordinated operations of increasing complexity among the navies of the four countries which are part of the Quad or Quadrilateral Coalition,” officials said.

Also, “The two carriers, along with other ships, submarines, and aircraft of the participating navies, would be engaged in high-intensity naval operations over four days,” the Indian Navy said on Monday, according to The Hindu.