The sixth edition of the Japan India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX) is underway in the Bay of Bengal since Sunday and comprises complex tactical drills in all dimensions of naval warfare to enhance interoperability between the two key maritime forces in the Indo-Pacific.
The JIMEX series of exercises began in January 2012 with a special focus on maritime security cooperation between India and Japan. Its last edition was conducted in October 2021 in the Arabian Sea.
Rear Admiral Hirata Toshiyuki, Commander of the Escort Flotilla Four leads the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) ships that include the helicopter carrier Izumo and guided-missile destroyer Takanami. From the Indian Navy, stealth multi-role frigate INS Sahyadri and anti-submarine warfare corvettes INS Kadmatt and INS Kavaratti led by Rear Admiral Sanjay Bhalla, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, are participating in the exercise.
A tweet from India’s Eastern Naval Command said Monday that JIMEX “seeks to strengthen the close links & interoperability between IN and JMSDF through the conduct of complex exercises in all dimensions of naval warfare.” The two-phase exercise will include drills of the sea phase in the Bay of Bengal and the harbour phase in Visakhapatnam. Along with the support ships, several airborne assets, including fighter jets, patrol aircraft and helicopters, will also be part of the exercise.
Officials said JIMEX aims to develop a common understanding of operational procedures and enhance interoperability through the conduct of drills across the entire spectrum of maritime operations. The exercise includes weapon firings, cross-deck helicopter operations and complex surface, anti-submarine and air warfare drills.
The naval exercise is key considering the role of the two countries in the Indo-Pacific region along with Australia and the United States, which together form the strategically significant Quad or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
A joint statement issued after the summit meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Fumio Kishida in March earlier this year had said, “The Prime Ministers emphasized that India and Japan, as two leading powers in the Indo-Pacific region, had a shared interest in the safety and security of the maritime domain, freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce and peaceful resolution of disputes with full respect for legal and diplomatic processes in accordance with international law.”
“With their commitment to promoting peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, the Prime Ministers affirmed the importance of bilateral and plurilateral partnerships among like-minded countries of the region, including the quadrilateral cooperation among Australia, India, Japan, and the United States (the Quad),” it added.
The exercise is taking place after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held the India-Japan 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Tokyo in which the Japanese side was represented by Minister of Defence Yasukazu Hamada and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi.
The Indian Army and Japanese Ground Self Defence Force also conduct the annual joint exercise Dharma Guardian. The Air Forces of the two countries are working towards holding a joint air warfare exercise soon.
In his speech at the commissioning of INS Vikrant in Kochi, PM Modi said, “The changing global dynamics have made the world multipolar. That is why it is critical to keep a futuristic viewpoint towards global dynamics. For example, the area of Indo-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region were always neglected in the past, but they are now a strategic priority for our country.”
Meanwhile on Monday, stealth multi-role frigate INS Satpura and a P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft of the Indian Navy reached Darwin in Australia to participate in the multinational Exercise Kakadu – 2022, hosted by the Royal Australian Navy. The two-week-long exercise, both in harbour and sea, involves ships and maritime aircraft from 14 navies. During the harbour phase of the exercise, the ship’s crew will engage in operational planning interactions and sports activities with the participating naval forces.