India, Japan to tighten defence and security cooperation

India, Japan to tighten defence and security cooperation

The armies of India and Japan will have their first joint exercise in 2018 as the two nations agreed on Wednesday to further expand their ties in military and security engagements.

Not to be left behind, the air forces of the two countries would send their respective aircraft to each other bases. In addition, the Japanese maritime self-defence force would send its P-1 surveillance aircraft for the tri-nation Malabar exercise in 2018.

The first edition of the mock war drill between the Indian Army and Japan's Ground Self Defence Force would focus on counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations, an area in which the Indian Army has an expertise.

Finer details of the exercise would be decided later when the two forces would sit down for the initial planning meeting, sources said.

Other future mock drills could be on areas like UN peace keeping and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

While the two navies had a history of cooperation, the joint statement issued after the summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe recognised the importance of expanding the maritime domain awareness in the Indo-Pacific region.

From 2017 onward, Japan has been made a permanent member of the Malabar series of naval exercise, which used to be bilateral affairs involving Indian and USA.

The two Prime Ministers commended the expansion in scale and complexity of the Malabar exercise that took place in the Bay of Bengal in July 2017.

Signifying increased friendship, Japan too opened its anti-submarine warfare and mine counter-measure training to the Indian Navy. Both activities are likely to start in 2018.

While the much-anticipated deal to buy US-2 amphibian aircraft from Japan didn't materialise, its prospect brightened with the two countries recognising the Japanese offer as a symbol of a high degree of trust between the two countries.

However, sources said more time would be required to finalise the price negotiation as the Japanese offer at the moment is on a higher side.

The two countries initiated technical discussions for future research collaboration in the area of unmanned ground vehicles and robotics.

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