The maritime forces of the US, India, Japan and Australia have begun the 26th iteration of the Malabar quad-nation exercise.

Led by the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF), this year’s exercise is being conducted offshore from Japan in the Philippine Sea.

It is the third time all four nations have taken part in the exercise series, which was previously a bilateral engagement between India and the US.

The opening ceremony of Malabar 2022 was held on 8 November and was followed by an at-sea phase, which involved various high-end tactical training drills.

These included air defence exercises, anti-submarine warfare, multinational replenishment-at-sea operations, submarine integration, communications drills, gunnery exercises and maritime interdiction operations, as well as other joint warfighting planning scenarios.

Participants from the JMSDF include the Asahi-class destroyer JS Shiranui (DD 120), JS Takanami (DD 115), Hyuga-class ship JS Hyuga (DDH 181), JS Oumi (AOE 426) and one P-1 aircraft.

JMSDF Escort Flotilla-3 commander rear admiral Ikeuchi Izuru said: “Through this high-end tactical exercise, we were able to improve our tactical capabilities and strengthen cooperation with the US, India and Australian navies, thereby contributing to the creation of a desirable security environment for Japan.

“I also believe that this exercise embodied the firm and united will of the four countries toward the realisation of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The exercise also included participation from the US Navy’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG)-5, which consists of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the Arleigh Burke-class USS Milius (DDG 69) destroyer and the USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), a Ticonderoga-class cruiser.

Australian assets include the Anzac-class ship HMAS Arunta and the Collins-class Farncomb submarine, as well as a P-8A aircraft and a Stalwart (A304) tanker ship.

The Indian Navy units include one Shivalik-class frigate, a Kamorta-class corvette, Marine Commandos and a P-8I aircraft.