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NEW DELHI — The annual Malabar naval exercise, regarded as a forum of Indo-US military friendship, will include Japan as a permanent participant in the Oct. 12-19 "Malabar 2015 " version off southern India. Japan participated in earlier Malabar exercises, but only as an invited observer.

"Japan's participation as a permanent participant in the Malabar exercise marks a turning point in the relationship between the navies of India, US and Japan in the region," says Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst here.

Japan participated in the Malabar exercise hosted by India in 2007, but after a strong reaction from China against the inclusion of Japan and Australia, the exercises became largely bilateral thereafter, although Japan did participate in 2014.

The Malabar exercises commenced in 1992.

In Malabar 2015, the US Navy will participate with its aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, cruiser USS Normandy, littoral combat ship USS Forth Worth, nuclear powered attack submarine USS City of Corpus Christi, and P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft.

The Indian Navy will participate with a Rajput-class destroyer, Shivalik-class and Brahmaputra-class frigates, a fleet support ship, Russian-made Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhudhwaj, and P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft.

Japan is fielding only JS Fuyuzuki, its Akizuki-class guided missile destroyer.

The main thrust of the Malabar 2015 will be to exercise in a scenario for destroying hostile submarines, surface warships and aircraft, an Indian Navy official said.

Email: vraghuvanshi@defensenews.com

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