NEW DELHI: India’s two frontline warships arrived in Japan’s Yokosuka to participate in the International Fleet Review (IFR) scheduled to be held at Sagami Bay on November 6, officials said on Thursday.The Indian Naval ships, Shivalik and Kamorta, will also be deployed in the four-nation Malabar exercise scheduled to take place off Yokosuka from November 8 to 18, they said.The Malabar exercise among the navies of India, Japan, the US and Australia is taking place amid rising global concerns over China’s increasing military muscle-flexing in the South China Sea and East China Sea regions.Officials said the exercise will witness “high-tempo” drills in multiple domains as well as complex surface, sub-surface and air operations, including live firing drills.The IFR is being hosted to mark the 70th anniversary of the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF).Apart from India, the navies from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America are attending it.The IFR will be reviewed by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and will include participation of 40 ships and submarines from the participating countries, the officials said.On completion of the IFR, the Indian Navy ships will participate in the 26th edition of Malabar naval exercise along with warships from the navies of Australia, Japan and the US.Besides the two ships, the Indian Navy is set to deploy some other assets, including P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.”The Malabar exercise will witness high-tempo drills between the participating platforms in multiple domains. Complex surface, sub-surface and air operations, including live firing drills, are scheduled during the exercise,” said an official.While INS Shivalik is a multi-role guided missile stealth frigate, INS Kamorta is an antiâsubmarine corvette and both of them are part of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet based at Visakhapatnam.Eastern Fleet Commander, Rear Admiral Sanjay Bhalla will have operational discussions with Commander of the US Seventh Fleet and Commander Escort Force 3 (JMSDF) during the Malabar exercise, the officials said.Following India’s invitation, Australia participated in the Malabar exercise in 2020 that effectively made it a drill by all four member nations of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition.Australia participated in last year’s exercise as well.China has been suspicious about the purpose of the Malabar exercise as it feels that the annual war game is an effort to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian Navy and the US Navy in the Indian Ocean. Japan became a permanent member of the exercise in 2015.This annual exercise was conducted off the coast of Guam in 2018 and off the coast of Japan in 2019.In 2020, the exercise was hosted in two phases in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. Last year, the mega wargame took place off the coast of Guam in the Western Pacific.There have been mounting global concerns over China’s growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.India, the US, Australia, Japan and many other like-minded countries are working towards ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
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