Japanese Flattop and Destroyer Conduct Joint Naval Drill With Indian Stealth Frigate

Indian Navy and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force conducted a joint exercise in the Andaman Sea last week.

Japanese Flattop and Destroyer Conduct Joint Naval Drill With Indian Stealth Frigate
Credit: Indian Navy via Twitter

The Indian Navy (IN) and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) conducted a joint bilateral naval drill involving the JMSDF helicopter carrier JS Izumo, the Murasame-class destroyer JS Murasame, and the IN’s Shivalik-class stealth multi-role frigate INS Sahyadri in the Andaman Sea on May 23 and 24, the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a recent statement.

According to the Japanese MoD, the drill involved anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training and tactical maneuvers. The Indian MoD noted that both navies conducted “passage exercises” that included “intensive maritime operations,” tactical maneuvers, and ASW exercises “on expendable target.”

The Indian MoD notes that last week’s exercise constitutes the fifth interaction of the INS Sahyadri with JMSDF warships over the past 12 months. Indo-Japanese maritime exercises have principally focused on ASW operations in recent years.

The Indo-Japanese drill was preceded by a JMSDF-U.S Navy cooperative deployment in the Malacca Strait involving the USS William P. Lawrence, a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, the JS Izumo, and the JS Murasame on May 22.

The two JMSDF warships also participated in a multilateral naval engagement between May 2 and May 8 in the South China Sea. “Warships from the United States Navy, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Philippines Navy, and the Indian Navy sailed together for the first time in a four-way event demonstrating presence and cooperation,” my colleague Ankit Panda reported for The Diplomat earlier this month.

The Indian Navy also held a bilateral naval drill with the Republic of Singapore Navy earlier this month.

The helicopter carrier JS Izumo is the lead ship of the Izumo-class. This Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump, accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is expected to tour its sister ship, the JS Kaga, stationed at the Yokosuka JMSDF base in Kanagawa Prefecture. The inspection will take place during the U.S. president’s state visit to Japan from May 25 to 28.

In April, two JMSDF P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft joined IN P-8I Neptune maritime patrol/anti-submarine warfare aircraft and an Indian submarine in an ASW exercise. India and Japan have been moving closer in the maritime for a number of years, as I explained in December 2018:

 Notably, India and Japan have started formal negotiations over a so-called acquisition and cross-servicing agreement (ACSA) this year, which would allow the Indian Navy access to a Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) base in Djibouti, while the latter would be allowed to use Indian naval installations on, for example, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands located in the Indian Ocean, next to other naval facilities.

(…) Furthermore in 2015, Japan also became a permanent member of the Malabar naval exercise involving aircraft, ships, and personnel from the Indian, Japanese, and U.S. navies. The 22nd rendition of the naval exercise took place in June 2018 off the coast of Guam.

This year’s Malabar naval exercise is expected to be held in Japanese waters.