Last week during the joint Malabar exercises in the Indian Ocean, MiG-29Ks of the Indian Navy and F-18s of the U.S. Navy carried out simulated attacks on a surface force during multilateral naval exercises. The MiG-29s operated from the Indian Navy’s INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier and coordinated firing on surface targets during Phase-2 of the Malabar 2020 exercises.

“The exercises conducted during MALABAR provided opportunities to enhance our interoperability and strengthens our maritime partnerships with India, Australia, and Japan,” said Capt. Elaine Collins, commander, Destroyer Squadron 9. “Our ability to replenish ships at sea, conduct live firing exercises and communicate with one another, ship-to-ship, demonstrates our cooperation and shared goals of fostering security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The U.S. Navy’s Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG-11) took part in the Phase-2 operations to further strengthen the integration of its naval air forces through air and air defence exercises. It allowed U.S. aviators to work alongside those of the Indian Navy.

“MiG-29K’s of the IN and the F-18 of the U.S. Navy flew along with the IN’s maritime patrol aircraft P-8I and the USN AEW aircraft E2C Hawkeye in seamless coordination,” said the Indian Navy in a statement, reported by the Economic Times of India.

The second phase of the Malabar exercises also included a photo exercise, night operations, air defence exercises, helicopter cross-deck evolutions, carrier landing approaches, underway replenishment approaches, gunnery exercises, and antisubmarine warfare exercises.

“Operating with Australia, India, and Japan via cross-deck landings, carrier landing approaches and aerial refuelling during Malabar has been instrumental in enhancing the compatibility of our naval air forces,” said Capt. Todd Cimicata, commander, Carrier Air Wing 17. “We are honoured by the professionalism of our partners, and look forward to flying together again as we reinforce our mutual desire to improve maritime security in the global commons.”

This year marked the twenty-fourth iteration of annual exercise, which began in 1992. It started as a training exercise between the United States and India and over the years other nations have taken part. Japan joined the annual event in 2015 and Australia, which had last participated in 2007, re-joined this year. It was the latest in a series of exercises that have grown in scope and complexity in recent years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, where the U.S. Navy has had a significant role for more than seventy years promoting regional peace and security.

“Malabar is an important opportunity to demonstrate the strength of our strategic partnerships in a high-end exercise,” said Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander of CSG-11. “The Nimitz Strike Group team is grateful to join our Australian, Indian and Japanese partners and increase our readiness and interoperability.”

CSG-11 is currently deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. It had been operating in the waters of the north Arabian Sea for training, and recently rounded the Strait of Hormuz to join the exercises. As the U.S. Navy’s largest numbered fleet, the U.S. 7th Fleet interacts with thirty-five other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability, and prevent conflict.