Updated: Oct 3
Meghna Venkatesh 30th September 2020
The Indian and Japanese Navy began the ‘JIMEX-20’ maritime drill on 26th September 2020. The three-day training was conducted in the Northern Arabian Sea. Similar to the Indo-Australia two-day naval exercise, the ‘JIMEX-20’ was also held in a ‘non-contact at-sea-only format’, reported The Hindu. This step was taken as a precautionary measure because of the novel coronavirus.
The bilateral exercise, known as JIMEX between India and Japan, is conducted every alternate year. The previous edition of the exercise was regulated off the coast of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, during October 2018. This is the first drill after India and Japan signed the ‘Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement’ in early September of this year.
The Indian Ministry of Defence released a statement on Friday, 25th September 2020, that stated, “JIMEX-20 will showcase a high degree of interoperability and joint operational skills through the conduct of a multitude of advanced exercises across the spectrum of maritime operations. Multi-faceted tactical exercises involving weapon firing, cross-deck helicopter operations, and complex surface, anti-submarine, and air warfare drills will consolidate the coordination developed by the two navies.”
The Indian Navy was represented by the Indian Navy Ship (INS) Chennai, stealth frigate INS Tarkash, and fleet Tanker Deepak at sea. Kaga — an Izumo Class Helicopter Destroyer and Ikazuchi — a guided-missile destroyer, were deployed by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) for the three-day drill.
The Indian Navy mentioned in its statement that the co-operation and the mutual confidence would be enhanced further by ‘JIMEX-20’ between the two navies — to strengthen the ‘long-standing’ friendship among the two countries.
The maritime co-ordination has seen steady progress between India-Japan concerning Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) in Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region. Several countries, including Australia and Japan, have shown interest in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands located close to the strategic Strait of Malacca.
As reported by the Hindustan Times, ‘JIMEX-20’ drill was conducted right after the Indo-Australian ‘passage exercise’ that took place on 23rd September 2020 – 24th September 2020. These passage exercises, in contrast to the pre-planned maritime drills such as ‘JIMEX-20’, are taken up whenever there is an opportunity.
Recently, there has been a spike in maritime interactions between India and the Quad countries — the United States of America, Australia, and Japan. The joint exercises with these countries are centred on improving MDA by sharing information.
The next Malabar naval exercise — being conducted by India, Japan, and the United States of America — will have Australia as a part of it as well. This edition of the Malabar naval exercise has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the exercise is set to be held by the end of 2020.
Under its mission-based deployment, the Indian Navy has positioned warships along critical sea lanes and chokepoints, Zee News mentioned in a report. However, these warships could be diverted at any point for any mission if needed.
(Source: Hindustan Times, The Hindu, Zee News) Edited by Satvik Pandey