Australia keen to crank up military ties with India as China flexes muscle in Indo-Pacific region | India News

NEW DELHI: Amid muscle-flexing by China in the Indo-Pacific, Australia is keen to further crank up military ties with India in terms of maritime domain awareness, combat exercises, classified information exchange, interoperability, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Tthere is “a lot of stress and strain” underway in the Indo-Pacific with a number of challenges like climate change and “big power muscle movement”, which includes India facing “live borders”, visiting Australian Fleet commander Rear Admiral Jonathan Earley said on Tuesday.
With India and Australia “guarding the two flanks of the Indian Ocean”, the two countries can “certainly” enhance cooperation in maritime domain awareness through classified exchanges and exploitation of common platforms like P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and MH-60 `Romeo’ helicopters, he added.
The two countries will also increase the complexity of their bilateral and multilateral combat exercises. India, the US, Japan and Australia will kick off the top-notch Malabar exercise off Yokosuka in Japan next week, with the “Quad” countries having earlier declared their intent to deter any `coercion’ in the Indo-Pacific.
Rear Admiral Earley said Australia has also invited India to participate in its largest biennial `Talisman Sabre’ exercise with the US and other countries next year. After India’s recent participation in the major multi-nation `Pitch Black’ air combat exercise at Darwin in Australia, the armies from the two countries will also conduct the first-ever `Austra-Hind’ infantry combat exercise at the Mahajan field firing ranges in Rajasthan from November 28 to December 11, as was first reported by TOI.
Under Australia’s flagship regional engagement activity, the Indo-Pacific Endeavour (IPE22), two Australian warships with embarked helicopters and around 1,300 personnel are also currently at Visakhapatnam.
“IPE22 supports the Australian government’s commitment to an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region. The activity will strengthen Australia’s engagement and partnerships with regional nations,” said Australian high commissioner Barry O’Farrell.
“India is an important strategic partner for Australia and has a critical role to play in the security and stability of the wider Indo-Pacific. IPE22 will pave the way for deeper and more sophisticated operational cooperation between our defence forces,” he added.

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