Home India News Tsunami-hit Japan opts out of India-US naval war game

Tsunami-hit Japan opts out of India-US naval war game


New Delhi : With Japan busy with tsunami relief and containing the fallout from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, it will not join the nine-day India-US naval war game beginning Saturday in the west Pacific Ocean, an officer said Friday.

Japan, which was to send its warships to the ‘Malabar’ exercise, has ruled out its participation following which India and the US have decided to go ahead with the war game, though its scope will be scaled down as some important Japanese assets like maritime aircraft will not be available, the naval officer said.

India has already sent three of its destroyers along with a corvette and a support tanker for the naval exercise with the Americans that will end April 10, the officer added.

The annual exercise series, though bilateral in nature, has gone multi-lateral on more than a couple of occasions before, with Japan joining more often.

In 2007, India and US had invited Japan, Singapore and Australia to the Malabar exercise off India’s east coast, which generated a lot of political heat in the country with the Left parties opposing it.

The coming together of the five nation’s navies in 2007 for the power-packed exercise, when largest aircraft carriers, submarines and fighter jets flexed muscles in Bay of Bengal was looked at as a maritime front against China, which was making forays into the Indian Ocean region.

In this year’s exercise, the Indian and US navies will practice manoeuvres in interdiction at sea and anti-piracy patrols for achieving inter-operability at times of joint operations in the future.

Japan had earlier agreed to play host to the Indian and US warships at the Okinawa port city.

The US Navy had in the past fielded its Carrier Strike Group-7 with the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier at its helm. But in this year’s edition of Malabar exercise, the US Pacific fleet destroyers and corvettes would match their mettle with the Indian destroyers and corvette.

There would be live firing during the sea drills, but no missile firing, the officer said.

Anti-piracy patrol is one of the special areas of interest to the Indian Navy, as it is engaged full time in the Gulf of Aden since October 2008 and off Lakshadweep from October last year.

Although India carries out the anti-piracy patrols on its own and has not joined the US-led multi-national effort in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, it is interested in learning the best practices of the Americans in carrying out such operations jointly with other navies, the officer added.