India, Japan and USA to hold naval exercise next week

India, Japan and USA to hold naval exercise next week

India, Japan and USA to hold naval exercise next week

With China expanding its presence in the Indian Ocean region, the navies of India, the US and Japan are all set to undertake war games in the Bay of Bengal next week involving nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

Malabar 2017 would be the first Indo-US military exercise after President Donald Trump came to power and will take place within weeks after his maiden meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While the Malabar series of  the exercise was originally a bilateral one involving the Indian and the US navies, the NDA government in 2015 decided to include Japan as a permanent member in the annual war drill of the maritime forces.

The tri-nation exercise will focus on combined carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare, special forces, explosive ordnance disposal, helicopter operations and seizure operations.

The naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal comes at a time when the China’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Navy is steadily expanding its footprint in the Indian Ocean region.

Much to the concerns of the Indian Navy, Chinese nuclear, as well as conventional submarines, are regularly crisscrossing the Indian Ocean as part of Beijing's anti-piracy patrol team in the Gulf of Aden.

Last month, Sri Lanka denied permission to a Chinese submarine to dock in Colombo though the island nation has acceded to Beijing’s request in the past. Gwadar in Pakistan is another harbour that Chinese submarines frequent.

The seventh Chinese submarine (Yuan class) is on the deployment at the moment whereas the number of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean is on the rise.

At any given point of time, 12 to 14 Chinese naval ships are seen on the high seas, while the number was three to four till a few years ago.