Trilateral Malabar exercise to kick off on July 10

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Even as the stand-off between the armies of India and China continues in Sikkim, the Indian Navy will join Japan and USA counterparts in the annual Malabar war games in the Indian Ocean from July 10 with a strong focus on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) amid increasing forays by Chinese submarines into the region.

While the Malabar series of the exercise was originally a bilateral one involving the Indian and the USA navies, the NDA government in 2015 made a decision to include Japan as a permanent member in the annual war drill of the maritime forces.

Naval officials in Delhi downplay this deployment but 13 Chinese naval ships, tracked over the last two months by Indian naval satellite GSAT-7 and long-range maritime patrol aircraft like P-8I, must raise alarm bells for Indian authorities when both the nations have been engaged in a war of words and tensions on the eastern border. According to a report by The Indian Express, apart from India's INS Vikramaditya, it will also feature USS Nimitz and Japan's largest helicopter carrier JS Izumo. Thereafter, the Indian Navy chose to send additional warship near Strait of Malacca as permanent deployment to keep tabs on ship movement between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean through world's busiest shipping route.

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In 2016, a Chinese intelligence-gathering ship reportedly followed or chased an Indian warship taking part in the Malabar exercises, according to South Korean news service Newsis. The India-US-Japan Malabar exercise in the Bay of Bengal is scheduled to begin next week.

In the backdrop of enhanced joint maneuvering of China & Pakistan, the Indian Navy has started to renew its maritime policy to ensure that its dominance can not be challenged in the Indian Ocean Region which includes repositioning of military assets to ensure its dominance in the Indian Ocean by 2020.

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