India and Australia will hold their first ever joint naval drills in the Indian Ocean. The two countries seek to deepen defence ties and counter China’s growing sway in the Indian Ocean. The maritime exercises, to be held in the Bay of Bengal off India’s eastern coast on September, will include anti-submarine warfare and coordinated anti-submarine drills. The Indian Ocean is fast emerging as a new arena of competition between China and India as GOI tries to regain its position as the dominant maritime power.
China shocked India last year with two submarine visits to Sri Lanka’s commercial port in Colombo. The island nation’s general election this month returned a government friendly to India and the West, cementing a shift that followed the election of a new president in January. India is also set to take part in joint naval exercises with Japan and the United States in October, the first such event in eight years.