India will hold a series of naval drills starting from August, including Malabar-2021, conducted along with the Australian, US and Japanese navies, the Indian Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.
The ministry explained that India would hold several bilateral naval drills, including with Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia, with the exercises set to take place in the region of Southeast Asia, the South China Sea and last more than two months.
Apart from that, the Indian navy will participate in the annual exercise with Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) partners in the western part of the Pacific Ocean, the ministry added.
The Malabar series was launched as bilateral India-US exercises in 1992. Japan joined the drills in 2015 and Australia in 2020.
The inclusion of Australia was seen by some as a possible first step towards the militarization of Quad — an informal strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia and India — which Beijing has opposed in the past.
This will be the second consecutive year when QUAD navies will participate in the naval drills.
Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said that the Indian warships will participate in the next edition of the Malabar exercise alongside the navies of Japan, Australia, the US in the Western Pacific.
He added that the naval task group will comprise of guided-missile destroyer Ranvijay, guided-missile frigate Shivalik, anti-submarine corvette Kadmatt and guided-missile corvette Kora.
“In pursuit of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and to enhance military cooperation with friendly countries, a task force of Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet is scheduled to proceed on an overseas deployment to South East Asia, the South China Sea and Western Pacific from early August for over two months,” the Navy said in a statement.
The Indian naval ships are scheduled to participate in SIMBEX exercise with Singaporean Navy, ‘Samudra Shakti’ exercise with the Indonesian Navy and AUS-INDEX exercise with the Australian Navy, the Navy added.