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Aero India 2023

Malabar Exercise kicks off close to South China Sea

A file photo of Malabar 2015 exercise. Courtesy: Indian Navy

NEW DELHI (PTI): India, Japan and the US have kicked off their marine wargames, Malabar Exercise, near the troubled waters of East China Sea that will see in action over 100 aircraft and 22 naval ships including a nuclear submarine.

The exercise assumes significance as it is being conducted close to East China Sea at a time when Chinese assertiveness in the region is a raging issue.

It aims to achieve deeper military ties and greater interoperability amid rising tensions in the region.

The exercise, started on June 10, is being held close to the uninhabited isles in East China Sea called Senkaku by Japan, which controls them. However, they are aggressively claimed by China as its Diaoyu islands.

The Indian Navy said that their four ships are participating in the 20th edition of the naval exercise in consonance with India's 'Act East Policy' and growing ties among the three countries.

The exercise will support maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region and benefit the global maritime community, the Navy said.

India and the US have regularly conducted the annual exercise since 1992. Since 2007, Malabar has been held alternatively off India and in the Western Pacific. Last year, it was conducted off Chennai and included participation of Japan.

While the harbour phase of the exercise started at Sasebo on June 10, the sea phase in the Pacific Ocean will be held from June 14 to 17.

Indian ships participating in the exercise are from the Eastern Fleet and include INS Sahyadri and INS Satpura, indigenously built guided missile stealth frigates, INS Shakti, a modern fleet tanker and support ship, and INS Kirch, an indigenous guided missile corvette.

The US Navy will be represented by aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis (CVN 74), that holds 90 fighter aircraft and helicopters besides Ticonderoga class Cruiser USS Mobile Bay and Arleigh Burke class destroyers USS Stockdale and USS Chung Hoon, all carrying helicopters.

In addition, one nuclear-powered submarine, carrier wing aircraft and long-range maritime patrol aircraft will also participate in the exercise.

Japan will be represented by Hyuga, a helicopter carrier with SH 60 K integral choppers and long-range maritime patrol aircraft, besides 9 other advanced warships for specific parts of the exercise.

Additionally, the Special Forces (SF) of the three navies will also interact during the exercise.

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