In a move that is sure to raise eyebrows in Beijing, four Indian warships will join the navies of the United States and Japan in the second half of June for the next edition of Malabar exercises east of Okinawa, a Japanese island.
Last December, India and the U.S announced formal expansion of the bilateral exercises into a trilateral format with the edition of Japan.
Official sources said that two stealth frigates, a guided missile corvette and a fleet replenishment tanker of the Indian Navy would take part in the exercises.
In September 2007, the navies of Australia, Japan and Singapore joined India and the U.S. in the Malabar exercises which forced China to issue a demarche to New Delhi. This is also not the first time these exercises will be held near Okinawa.
Former Navy Chief Admiral Arun Prakash said it showed that India has made up its mind to form some sort of partnership with Japan and the U.S. and termed the exercises an acknowledgement of the “shared security concerns”.
Australia has repeatedly expressed interest in joining Malabar on a permanent basis and the United States had been pushing its inclusion, but India has so far resisted the move so as not to antagonise China.