India, US, Japan set for Malabar exercise; Quad to meet in NY
New Delhi: As the first-ever “Quad” meeting at the foreign minister-level takes place on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York this week, warships and aircraft from three of the countries are amassing over 7,100 miles away in the Western Pacific for high-voltage wargames that have often irked China.
The 23rd edition of the topnotch “Malabar” naval exercise among India, the US and Japan kicks off Sasebo in Japan on Wednesday, with Australia being the sole “Quad” member not involved in the 10day wargames. Indian defence establishment sources say India has separately cranked up military ties with Australia, which saw the two countries conduct their biggest-ever naval exercise called “AusIndEx” to “build inter-operability” off the Visakhapatnam coast in April this year.
“So, willy-nilly, there is a military dimension to the Quad, a group of like-minded democracies who are for a free, open and rules-based order in the Indian Ocean Region, South China Sea or elsewhere, as opposed to an aggressive China in the Indo-Pacific,” said a source.
India has been against any militarisation of the Quad, much like it was even opposed to upgrading it to a ministeriallevel dialogue till now, to not needlessly antagonise a prickly China. In 2007, for instance, Beijing objected to Malabar exercise in Bay of Bengal because it was expanded to include Japan, Australia and Singapore as well. While Japan has now become a regular participant in Malabar, India has not agreed to include Australia just yet.
For the latest Malabar, India has sent its 6,100-tonne stealth frigate INS Sahyadari, antisubmarine warfare corvette INS Kiltan and Poseidon-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft. “This is the first time one of our P-8I aircraft has been deployed to Japan,” said another source. The Malabar comes soon after India held its first trilateral naval exercise with Singapore and Thailand in the Andaman Sea earlier this month.
Full report on www.toi.in