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The Navies of India, Japan and the U.S. will enhance their anti-submarine warfare skills in this year’s Malabar naval war games to be held off the coast of Guam from June 7 to 16.

For the first time in a Malabar exercise, all three Navies are deploying their maritime reconnaissance (MR) aircraft to sharpen those skills.

“Each side has aircraft which can lay sono buoys and we will also monitor each other’s sono buoys. We will cross-attach people from all three countries,” the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral G. Ashok Kumar, said.

While the Indian Navy is deploying a P-8I long-range MR aircraft, the U.S. is deploying two P-8A aircraft and Japan is sending a Kawasaki P-1 MR aircraft. In addition, Japan and the U.S. have anti-submarine warfare helicopters on board their helicopter carrier JS Ise and aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, respectively.

The U.S. has one nuclear attack submarine, USS Pasadena, and Japan for the first time is deploying a Soryu class conventional submarine.

However, the Indian Navy does not have any anti-submarine warfare helicopter in the exercise. Indian effort would be limited to P-8I and the sonars on ships. The Navy’s anti-submarine warfare helicopter fleet is dependent on the ageing Sea Kings and is in urgent need of new helicopters.“The exercise contributes towards increasing the level of mutual understanding, interoperability and sharing of the best practices between the three navies,” the Navy said.

The scope of the Malabar 2018 includes harbour phase from June 07-10 and sea phase from June 11-16. The sea phase includes a diverse range of activities at sea including aircraft carrier operations, air defence, ASW, surface warfare, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS), joint manoeuvres and tactical procedures. There will also be exchange of sea-riders for the first time not just on ships but submarines and on shore.

Malabar began in 1992 as a bilateral naval exercise between India and the US and has over the years increased in scope and complexity with particular focus on ASW in view of increasing Chinese submarine movement in the Indian Ocean under the garb of anti-piracy patrols.