Australia will be joining three-way naval exercises involving the United States, Japan and India, which may raise concern from China, which has criticized similar joint exercises in the past.
Here are some of the most common questions about exercising Malabar:
WHAT IS THE MALABAR EXERCISE?
The Malabar Naval Exercise began in 1992 as a training event between the United States and India. Japan joined in 2015, but Australia has not participated since 2007.
The exercise was conducted off Guam in the Philippine Sea in 2018 and off Japan in 2019.
This year’s exercises will likely take place in the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf, according to the Defense Ministry. The dates have not yet been confirmed.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
It will be the first time that the United States, India, Japan and Australia – the informal group known as Quad – will participate in a joint military exercise of this scale.
The four Indo-Pacific democracies hope the exercise can act as a counterweight to Chinese military and political influence in the region.
India, which is locked in a military standoff along Ladakh’s border with China, hopes the expansion of the exercise will contain what it sees as Beijing’s intrusion into its territory, analysts say. .
WHICH VESSELS WILL PARTICIPATE?
“It will be the best of the best,” said Captain D K Sharma, defense analyst at BharatShakti.in and former Indian Navy official.
India, which sent two smaller warships last year, was likely to send a larger carrier this time around as smaller distances are involved, Sharma said.
The United States already has supercarriers Nimitz in the Gulf and Ronald Reagan in the Bay of Bengal, two possible participants in the exercise.
The Japanese navy will likely send one of its two “Izumo-class” helicopter carriers, an official said, the largest in its fleet and who has been part of the exercise for several years.
Australia could send one of its new ships, like the Hobart destroyer, he added.
HOW WILL COVID-19 AFFECT EXERCISE?
Participants usually meet in the host country before the start of the exercises and exchange crew members for observation.
But the Defense Ministry said this year’s exercise will be “contactless,” meaning participants will not meet in person and crews will not be transferred between ships, as a precaution against the coronavirus.