Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The four-nation Malabar 2020 naval exercise, involving the U.S. Navy's Nimitz Strike Group, concluded successfully Friday, the Navy's 7th Fleet announced.
The exercise began on Nov. 3 in India's Bay of Bengal and involved Japanese, Indian, Australian and U.S. maritime forces. It included night operations, air defense exercises, helicopter cross-deck evolutions, carrier landing approaches, underway replenishment approaches, gunnery exercises and antisubmarine warfare exercises to improve interoperability between allies.
The strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz joined the Vikramaditya Carrier Battle Group of the Indian Navy on Nov.6 for the second phase of the event.
Their exercises included cross-deck flying operations and advanced air defense exercises involving MIG 29K fighters of Vikramaditya and F-18 fighters and E2C Hawkeye from Nimitz.
Advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, seamanship evolutions and weapon firings were also demonstrated, a statement from the Indian Navy said.
"The exercises conducted during Malabar provided opportunities to enhance our interoperability and strengthens our maritime partnerships with India, Australia, and Japan," said Capt. Elaine Collins, commander of Destroyer Squadron 9, an element of the Nimitz strike group.
"Our ability to replenish ships at sea, conduct live firing exercises and communicate with one another, ship-to-ship, demonstrates our cooperation and shared goals of fostering security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region," Collins said.
The annual Malabar exercises have grown since the United States and India initiated them in 1992.
The 2020 version "highlights enhanced convergence of views amongst the four vibrant democracies on maritime issues, and showcases their commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order," the Indian navy said.