Trilateral Naval Exercise Malabar 2018 between India, Japan and United States will be held off the coast of Guam in Philippine Sea from June 6-15, 2018. It will be 22nd edition of the naval exercise. The exercise comes at time of increased friction between China and US along with nations bordering resource rich South China Sea (SCS) as China is militarising reclaimed islands in it to further strengthen its claim.
This edition of annual exercise will focus on high-end war fighting skillsets, subject matter expert and professional exchanges. It will also include combined carrier strike group operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare, medical operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, damage control, helicopter operations and visit, board, search and seizure operations.
Indian Navy participation in this year’s exercises will include indigenous stealth frigate INS Sahyadri, fleet tanker INS Shakti, anti-submarine corvette INS Kamorta and P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft. Japan is deploying its helicopter carrier JDS Ise along with Kawasaki P-1 aircraft maritime patrol aircraft and Soryu class conventional submarines. US is sending its aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan along with strike complement of destroyers, nuclear attack submarines and support ships in addition to P-8A maritime patrol aircraft.
Malabar Exercise was started as Indo-US bilateral naval war drill in 1992. Since then it is held annually. Japan had formally joined the exercise as permanent participant in 2015, making it trilateral exercise. The primary aim of this multilateral exercise is to increase interoperability amongst navies of three countries and develop common understanding of procedures for Maritime Security Operations and deepen defence relations between them. In 2007, the exercise also saw participation of Australia and Singapore. All the participating nations in the exercise have clarified earlier that the Malabar series is not aimed at any specific country.