Indian and the US Navies carried out a swift exercise close to the Andaman and Nicobar islands on Monday as the stand-off between India and China continues for over two months.
The passing exercise or PASSEX involved the super carrier USS Nimitiz returning from the South China Sea as it passes through Indian Ocean Region. A passage exercise is normally undertaken whenever an opportunity arises, in contrast to pre-planned maritime drills.
USS Nimitz (CVN 68) is US Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the world’s largest warship armed with F/A-18F Super Hornets as well as F/A-18E Super Hornets.
India had earlier conducted a similar exercise with France and Japan in the seas. The drills come soon after Indian Navy carried out an exercise in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to test its capabilities and be battle ready against Chinese forays in Indian Ocean Region.
The assets of the Eastern Naval Command and the Andaman and Nicobar Command of the Indian Navy had been deployed in the war games.
India is looking at strengthening its military diplomacy through the Navy to take on Chinese expansionism in the seas. In the next edition of the Malabar exercise, Australia is expected to join Navies of India, US and Japan, a move that could risk China’s ire.
India is expected to clear the way next week for a formal invitation to Australia following final government clearance and consultations with the US and Japan.
Expected to be held by the year end, the war game will complement growing strategic and security cooperation among the four countries.
Malabar 2020 will be taking place in the waters of Bay of Bengal by the end of this year. The last and the only time the Australian Navy had participated in this exercise was in 2007.
The Malabar exercises between US and Indian navies were instituted in 1992. They were more regular since 2004 with other Asian nations joining in the annual event.
China had objected to the only Australia participation in the drills along with India, Japan, US and Singapore in 2007.