New Delhi: In an indication that they mean business, the second phase of the naval exercises Malabar 2020 involving the Quad countries (India, the United States, Japan and Australia) starting from Tuesday is going to get bigger with the participation of the Indian Navy’s aircraft-carrier Vikramaditya and the US Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft-carrier Nimitz. The four-day war games will be conducted in the northern Arabian Sea.
Beijing sees such exercises as a militarisation of the informal Quad, that it sees as an anti-China alliance. India invited Royal Australian Navy this year to join the Malabar exercises, in a clear message to China.
“Phase 2 of Exercise Malabar 2020 will witness joint operations, centered around the Vikramaditya carrier battle group of the Indian Navy and the Nimitz carrier strike group of the US Navy,” said Indian Navy spokesman Commander Vivek Madhwal.
The first phase of Malabar 2020 was conducted in the Bay of Bengal from November 3 to 6.
The second phase will involve coordinated operations of increasing complexity between the Australian, Indian, Japanese and US navies.
The two carriers Vikramaditya and Nimitz, along with other ships, submarine and aircraft of the participating navies, would be engaged in high-intensity naval operations over the four days. These exercises include cross-deck flying operations and advanced air defence exercises by MiG-29K fighters off the Vikramaditya and F-18 fighters and E2C Hawkeyes from the Nimitz. In addition, advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, seamanship evolutions and weapon firings will also be undertaken.
Besides the Vikramaditya and its fighter and helicopter air wings, indigenous destroyers Kolkata and Chennai, stealth frigate Talwar, fleet support ship Deepak and integral helicopters will also participate in the exercises, led by Rear Adm. Krishna Swaminathan, Flag Officer Commandingin-Chief, Western Fleet. The indigenously built submarine Khanderi and P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft of the Indian Navy will also showcase their capabilities during the exercise.
The US Navy’s strike carrier Nimitz will be accompanied by cruiser Princeton and destroyer Sterett, in addition to P8A maritime reconnaissance aircraft. The Royal Australian Navy will be represented by frigate Ballarat along with its integral helicopter.