U.S. Japan, India Begin Largest Naval Exercises in Two Decades as China Looks On

US, India and Japan begin naval exercises, as China looks on

A rising Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean has prompted the largest naval exercise the region has seen in more than two decades.

The United States, Japan and India have deployed front-line warships, submarines and aircraft as part of the tri-nation Malabar exercises in the Bay of Bengal.

Conducted annually since 1992, Malabar has grown in size and complexity in recent years to address what the US Navy describes as a “variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Asia Pacific.”

Formerly a bilateral exercise between India and the US, this year’s drill is only the second to include Japan — and the first to include aircraft carriers from all three navies.

The exercises, which officially began Monday, are intended to provide a “symbolic reassurance that the US is committed to working with India to continue shaping the Asian security environment,” said Constantino Xavier, a foreign policy specialist at Carnegie India.

The week-long series of war games will involve a total of 16 ships — including the nuclear-powered USS Nimitz, India’s INS Vikramanditya, a reconditioned Russian-built aircraft carrier, and Japan’s JS Izumo, a helicopter carrier with an emphasis on anti-submarine warfare — as well as two submarines and more than 95 aircraft.

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SOURCE: CNN, Steve George and Huizhong Wu