India’s decision to extend an invitation to the Australian Navy to be a part of this year’s Malabar Naval exercises isn’t just about making a strong diplomatic statement to Beijing.
As China builds its Navy at an unprecedented pace, a Naval alliance composed of the United States, Japan and Australia may be best placed to counter Beijing’s growing maritime influence in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean on the basis of their shared military capabilities.
This has a lot to do with the weapons, sensors and platforms that the four Navies use. In simple terms, the Navies of these nations have systems that increasingly “talk to one another” through electronic data-links and encrypted communication systems. These compatible systems, deployed on a host of platforms including helicopters, maritime surveillance aircraft, submarines and warships and would be of immense use in the event of joint Naval operations against a Chinese fleet.
The clearest example of this is the Lockheed Martin MH-60 “Romeo” multi-role helicopter. This chopper, widely considered the most advanced in its class, is operated by Japan, Australia and the United States off the decks of their warships. The first of the Indian Navy’s 24 US-made MH-60s, being acquired in a $2.6 billion deal,…