An Australian diplomatic source has said that
the third edition of AUSINDEX exercise (Exercise Australia-India) will be held
off the coast of Vishakhapatnam from 2nd-16th April 2019.
AUSINDEX is a biennial bilateral maritime exercise
between Indian Navy and Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The first edition of the
exercise, AUSINDEX-15 took place in 2015 off the East Coast of India. The
exercise is aimed at strengthening professional interaction and enhance interoperability
between the two navies. It seeks to strengthen maritime cooperation between the
India and Australia.
The focus of AUSINDEX 2019 will be
anti-submarine warfare. India will deploy P-8I aircraft and Australia will
deploy P-8A aircraft. These are designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare,
anti-surface warfare, intelligence, and surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
According to Australian diplomatic sources, four
Royal Australian Navy ships will participate in the exercise. These include HMAS
(Her Majesty’s Australian Ship) Canberra, HMAS Success, HMAS Newcastle, and
AUSINDEX assumes particular significance at a
time when China’s growing presence in the Indo-Pacific region has been a matter
of concern for India, Australia and USA.
Australian source has said that AUSINDEX is a reflection
of depending ties between India and Australia. He further added that Australia’s
absence in the Malabar exercise does not affect India- Australia defence ties.
The Malabar exercise is a trilateral naval
exercise conducted among the United States, India and Japan. It was established
in 1992 between India and the United States. However, due to tensions arising
from India’s nuclearization in 1998, it became an annual feature only in 2002. Japan
joined as a permanent member in 2015.
In 2007, India had invited Australia, Japan, and
Singapore to be part of the exercise. However, China had labelled the move to
expand Malabar exercise as an ‘anti-China coalition’. To maintain a good
economic relationship with China, Australia withdrew its name from the “Quadrilateral”.
Australia had lately been keen to join the naval
exercise. However, India had rejected Australian government’s request.