INS Vikramaditya could take part in its first international wargame this July

File image of INS Vikramaditya. Source: Indian Navy

The US is participating with its USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, and the Japanese Navy is sending its largest warship for the Malabar war games in the Bay of Bengal.

Moscow: India’s largest warship, aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, could participate in its first international naval exercise this July.

Air operations will be in focus in a complex edition of the Malabar war games in the Bay of Bengal, with all three nations sending their largest combatants,

While the US is participating with its USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, and the Japanese Navy is sending its largest warship, the Izumo helicopter carrier, the exercise is likely to see the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier also taking part.

This would be the first time that the Indian aircraft carrier – acquired from Russia with a fleet of MiG-29K fighter aircraft – will be seen in an international naval exercise. INS Vikramaditya took part in the Tropex series of internal exercises along with nuclear-powered attack submarine INS Chakra, that has been leased from Russia, in January.

The Indian Navy is yet to officially disclose its participating assets, but sources say that several top line warships, the P-8I maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft, and submarines are likely to be deployed for the exercise.

The 2017 edition of the Malabar exercise is scheduled to take place from the second week of July in the Bay of Bengal. The exercise is likely to be one of the biggest in terms of combatants participating since 2007, when Australia and Singapore also joined in.

The Malabar series of exercises have been conducted between India and the US since 1992, but the 2007 edition became controversial after serious concerns were raised by China about the `intent’ of the wargame. The 2007 edition involving five nations was held in the Bay of Bengal and saw three aircraft carriers taking part – two American ships and the (now decommissioned) INS Viraat.

Following protests by Beijing, the exercise was scaled back, with Australia being the first to exit. However, in the past two years, Australia has shown keen interest in re-joining the war games with warships or even observers. A decision on getting Australia back on board is yet to be taken, but the country will not participate in the 2017 edition.

 

Editors note: An earlier version of the copy stated that the international naval exercise would take place in June in the headline and first paragraph. The error is regretted.

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