India, US, Japan to Conduct Trilateral Naval Drills; China Expected to Closely Monitor Exercises
India and the US are ready to carry out its naval exercise in the Malabar in the Bay of Bengal this coming July. Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force will also join the naval drill that will be more sophisticated than all previous editions.
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A planning conference will be launched soon in the US to plot the dates and warships to be included in the drill. After that, a final planning conference will be done in India to finalize the scenarios to be simulated.
China, on the other hand, grew suspicion on the said trilateral engagement and has lodged a protest over Japan's inclusion. Beijing is expected to closely keep an eye on the exercise as its navy is expanding its footprint across the Indian Ocean region.
An Indian Navy officer revealed that the exercise could involve aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines, and frontline warships. The P-8I and P-8A 'submarine hunter' planes from India and US will also participate to simulate anti-submarine warfare missions.
"The exact composition of the participating units will be known after the final planning conference is over. But the drills will be more complex than any previous engagements," the officer said.
India and the US have renewed their commitment to deepen bilateral defense cooperation in security-related areas. Under its US-India Defense Framework Agreement, the two countries aim to boost military-to-military engagements, enhance technical cooperation, and improve overall strategic partnership until 2025.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seek to revive the quadrilateral naval drills of India, the US, Japan, and Australia in the Indian Ocean Region. Defense News reported that Australia had previously participated in the four-nation naval war games in 2007 but has pulled out in 2008 in the face of sharp reaction from China.