20:00 GMT +323 July 2018
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    A US Navy helicopter approaches to land on the deck of aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), a missile cruiser and a nuclear-powered submarine, as the USS Normady sails in the Bay of Bengal during Exercise Malabar 2015.

    Malabar Exercise: Japan to Join India, US in Joint Naval Drills

    © AP Photo / Arun Sankar K.
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    Japan will join the US and India for the Malabar Joint Naval Exercise to be held in the Western Pacific.

    The South China Sea issue is again going to be in the limelight as India, the US and Japan are set to hold a trilateral naval exercise in the Western Pacific Ocean off the east coast of Okinawa.

    The trilateral exercise called ‘Malabar Exercise' will start on Friday and run through June 17 and is likely to strengthen naval ties between India, the US and Japan amid militarization of South China Sea by China.

    ​The Malabar Exercise will focus on anti-submarine warfare and air-defense training among the three countries.

    From the Japanese side its new ‘Hyuga' helicopter carrier as well as P-3C and P-1 patrol planes and US-2 rescue aircraft will take part in the naval exercise.

    The US will send its 7th Fleet for the Malabar Exercise. 

    The Indian Navy will deploy its four warships for the annual Malabar Naval Exercise. The Indian naval fleet consists of guided missile stealth frigates INS Satpura and Sahyadri; INS Shakti, a fleet support ship and INS Kirch, a guided missile corvette.

    The ‘Malabar Exercise' is an annual joint naval exercise between India and the US and Japan is joining it for the first time since 2007, when Japan had discontinued its participation after China's objections. Since 2007 Japan has participated only four times in the drills.

    China's sovereignty claims over almost all of the South China Sea has led to its dispute with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
    The realignment of India, the US and, Japan can be considered as a repercussion of China's aggressive stance on the South China Sea issue.

    "China's growing power projection capabilities have strained the fragile relationship with its neighbors due to its excessive maritime claims and non-conformity to the existing norms. This has led to new challenges and the maritime security situation is in flux due to the strategic power play and realignments," defense expert Sushant Sareen told Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    military drills, Malabar Exercise, India, Japan, United States, South China Sea
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