An Indian Navy ‘task force’ led by two stealth frigates is all poised to sail alongside Japanese and US Navy warships as they take part in the latest edition of ‘Exercise Malabar’. Malabar is an annual trilateral naval exercise that features naval assets from the Indian, US and Japanese Navy. The exercise features real time and near war scenarios which helps the navies to advance national maritime relationships and mutual security issues.
Malabar-16 is being held off the Philippines Sea close to the disputed South China Sea from June 9 to June 17. The exercise is being hosted by Japan at Sasebo. India has dispatched warships from its Eastern Naval Command led by Rear Admiral S V Bokhare. The US meanwhile has deputed warships from its Seventh Fleet (7th Fleet) which is in charge of guarding the waters in the Asia-Pacific region.
The naval exercise is divided between at-sea and ashore phases. The shore based part of the exercise will be held in Sasebo, Japan. While ashore, the navies will train in Carrier based air group operations; reconnaissance operations; joint maritime patrols; and surface and ASW operations. Personnel’s will also train in explosive ordnance disposal scenarios and visit, board, search and seizure operations.
For the at-sea phase of ‘Exercise Malabar’ the navies have planned to conduct liaison officer professional exchanges; submarine operations; high-value unit defence; air defence exercises; medical evacuation drills; surface warfare exercises; communication exercises; search and rescue operations; cross-deck air asset operations; at-sea replenishments and sustained ASW operations.
These exercises will help in drastically boosting the interoperability levels shared amongst the navies. Joint exercises like Malabar also enable the navies to advance the level of understanding between the sailors themselves. Japan, USA and India are core partners in maintaining the peace and stability in the contested Indo-Pacific region.
The exercise comes at a time when tensions are flaring in the regions around South China Sea. India has its share of struggles with the over adventurous China. India’s interests in the region have increased by several folds in the past few years. India under its ‘Look East’ policy is engaging every nation in the East. Vietnam has embraced India and is poised to receive several benefits. India only recently has launched the ‘Act East’ policy which has given the much needed biting force to the ‘Look East’ policy.
India is embracing itself in closer knots with Japan in an effort to tackle the spreading wings of the dragon. India and USA unanimously agreed to include Japan as a permanent member for ‘Exercise Malabar’ since 2015. India is slowly but surely entering the geopolitics that is evolving in the South China Sea.
USA is actively negotiating with India to form a formidable ‘quadrilateral maritime dialogue’ with India. USA has successfully convinced Japan and Australia for the dialogue. India, however, has its own reservations when it comes to the maritime dialogue. USA and Japan feel a combined effort is the need of the hour to address the concerns in the region.
‘Exercise Malabar’ is one such event that provides a common platform for the navies to sail square to square and to address the problems that question the stability and the long lived peace in the region. For USA and Japan, this exercise acts as a precursor to the much talked maritime dialogue. For India, the exercise is an opportunity to boost its operational strategies as it contests and operates alongside the best of the best.
Participating Assets in Malabar – 16
|INS Satpura and INS Sahyadr||Shivalik Class Guided-Missile Frigates.||Ø Displacement – 6,200 tonnes.
Ø Top Speed – 59 KMPH.
Ø Weaponry Systems –
1. Barak-1 SAM system.
2. Shtil-1 and BrahMos Cruise Missile.
3. AK-630 CIWS, Torpedo and Rocket launcher systems and 1 main gun as secondary weaponry system.
|INS Kirch||Kora Class Guided Missile Corvette.||Ø Displacement – 1500 tonne.
Ø Top Speed – 46 KMPH.
Ø Weaponry Systems –
1. Kh-35 Surface-Surface Missile.
2. AK-630 CIWS and Naval Gun as secondary weaponry systems.
|INS Deepak||Deepak Class Tanker.||Ø Displacement – 27,000 tonne.
Ø Top Speed – 37 KMPH.
Ø The Vessel is a mid-sea replenishment tanker. It can carry 17,000 tonne of solid cargo and nearly 15,000 tonne of liquid cargo. It also houses an onboard emergency fully equipped field Hospital.
United States Navy
|USS John C Stennis||Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier||Ø Displaces around 1,00,000 tonne.
Ø The Carrier can carry up to 90 combat ready aircraft.
Ø The air wing of the carrier consists of F-18 Super Hornet, Growlers, EA-6B Prowlers, E-2C Hawkeye and MH-60 helicopters.
|USS Mobile Bay||Ticonderoga Class Guided Missile Destroyer.||Ø Displaces around 10,000 tonnes.
Ø Top Speed – 60 KMPH.
Ø Tomahawk, Harpoon and RIM series guided missiles.
Ø Phalanx CIWS, Torpedoes and Naval guns .
|USS Stockdale, USS William P Lawrence and USS Chung Hoon||Arleigh Burke Class Guided Missile Destroyers.||Ø Displacement – 10,000 tonnes.
Ø Top Speed – 56 KMPH.
Ø Tomahawk, RIM and RUM series of missiles.
Ø Phalanx CIWS and two naval guns as secondary weaponry systems.
|Boeing P8A Poseidon||Long Range Maritime Surveillance Aircraft.||Ø Aircraft is capable of conducing Anti-Surface and Anti-Submarine operations.
Ø The aircraft carries torpedoes, depth charges and is also equipped with Harpoon missiles.
|Nuclear Powered Fast Attack (Hunter/Killer) submarine.||Los-Angeles Class Nuclear Submarine.||Ø Displaces 7,000 tonne.
Ø Heavy weight Torpedoes.
Ø Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Ø Harpoon Anti-Shipping Missiles (AShM).
Japanese Navy –
|JS Hyuga||Hyuga Class Helicopter Destroyer||Ø Displacement – 19,000 tonne.
Ø Top Speed – 56 KMPH.
Ø The vessel carries 18 Helicopters.
Ø RIM and RUM series missiles.
|Lockheed P3C Orion Aircraft||Turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.||Ø Mark 50 and 46 Torpedoes.
Ø Maverick and Harpoon AShM missiles.
Ø The aircraft can also carry mines, rockets and unguided bombs.
|ShinMaya US-2i aircraft||Short Take-off and Landing Amphibious aircraft.||Ø The aircraft is used for Sea and Air rescue.
Ø Capable of cruising at speeds up to 500 KMPH.
Ø The aircraft has a range of about 4000 kilometres.