Australia to join India's Malabar naval drills with US and Japan
20 October 2020
This year’s Malabar exercises, the annual interaction of the naval forces of India, Japan and the United States, will also see the participation of the Australian Navy, India’s defence ministry announced on Monday.
The move to include Australia could raise concerns in China, which has previously criticised any joint drills as destabilising.
India is hosting the Malabar drills in the Bay of Bengal which is scheduled for later next month.
“As India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain and in the light of increased defence cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy, a defence ministry release stated.
“This year, the exercise has been planned on a ‘non-contact - at sea’ format. The exercise will strengthen the coordination between the Navies of the participating countries.
“The participants of Exercise Malabar 2020 are engaging to enhance safety and security in the maritime domain. They collectively support free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and remain committed to a rules based international order,” the release added.
Australia will be returning to the joint manoeuvres after its participation in 2007 that drew criticism from China.
The United States has been pushing for a deeper collaboration with Japan, India and Australia as a bulwark against China’s growing regional influence.
These four have formed the so-called Quad, a loose strategic coalition of the four leading democracies in the region. The joint drills will be the first concrete action of the grouping, analysts say.
The Malabar series of naval exercises started in 1992 as a bilateral Indian Navy-US Navy exercise. Japan joined the exercise in 2015. This annual exercise has been conducted off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea in 2018, off the coast the Japan in 2019 and is expected to be held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea later this year.