The Indian Ministry of Defence has announced the start of the first phase of Exercise Malabar 20 in the Bay of Bengal.

The exercise aims to increase the level of mutual understanding, interoperability and sharing of the best practices between the navies of the countries.

It is the 24th iteration of MALABAR series of maritime exercises. It will take place in two phases this month.

The first phase will take place from 3rd to 6th November off the coast of Visakhapatnam.

Exercise Malabar 20 will involve participation from the US Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain, RAN’s long-range frigate HMAS Ballarat with integral MH-60 helicopter, and JMSDF Onami (Destroyer) with integral SH-60 helicopter will take part in the drills.

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The Indian Navy assets include destroyer Ranvijay, frigate Shivalik, Off Shore Patrol Vessel Sukanya, Fleet Support Ship Shakti and submarine Sindhuraj.

The Advanced Jet Trainer Hawk, long-range maritime patrol aircraft P-8I, Dornier maritime patrol aircraft, and helicopters will also participate.

Eastern Fleet commanding flag officer rear admiral Sanjay Vatsayan will lead the Indian Navy in the first phase.

The exercise is being carried out as a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ exercise due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The second phase of the exercise will be carried out mid this month in the Arabian Sea.

In 2018, the Indian Navy participated in the 22nd iteration of Exercise Malabar held in the US from 7-16 June.