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Malabar naval exercise: US, Indian aircraft show coordinated manoeuvres

The ongoing Malabar naval exercise in the Indian Ocean Region witnessed coordinated operations involving fighter jets and other aircraft of the Indian Navy and its US counterpart from the decks of INS Vikramaditya and USS Nimitz respectively.

Indian Navy’s MiG 29Ks and maritime patrol aircraft P-8I along with US Navy’s F-18 and AEW aircraft E2C participated in these operations, said Indian Navy.

“Both fighter aircraft operated as a composite strike package and practiced Beyond Visual Range (BVR) tactics, including Dissimilar Aircraft Combat Training (DACT) exercises,” Indian Navy said.

These complex advanced air defense exercises and maneuvers necessitate a high level of understanding amongst both aircrews and underline the similarity in their air operations as well as a high level of operational preparedness and an ability to conduct joint maritime security operations, it added.

The navies of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition – an informal security forum comprising India, the US, Japan, and Australia – are carrying out the naval exercise with aircraft carriers battle groups from November 17 to November 20 in the Indian Ocean region. Underway replenishment was also undertaken between Indian Navy ships and those of the Royal Australian Navy and the US Navy.

The coordination and understanding displayed by the navies during these exercises are reflective of the trust and understanding they have built over the years, as also the high standards of professionalism and preparedness they maintain to counter any threat at sea. The first phase of the Malabar exercise was conducted in the Bay of Bengal from November 3 to November 6.

The Malabar series of exercises, which began as an annual bilateral naval exercise between India and the US in 1992, has seen increasing scope and complexity over the years. The exercise takes place against the backdrop of growing concerns over Chinese expansionism in the Indo-Pacific region, both on land and sea.

For India, the Malabar exercise has gained geostrategic prominence at a time China has started a dispute on the borders. India and China are locked in an eight-month military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

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