India is likely to sign logistics services agreements with Japan and Australia during New Delhi’s back-to-back engagements with Tokyo and Canberra for expanding maritime security partnership in the Indo-Pacific region to balance China’s ambitions.
While the Japan pact may be signed over the next weekend during the maiden 2+2 meet before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s India visit in December for the annual summit, the Australian agreement is expected during Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s state visit mid-January.
In the ‘2+2’ format, the foreign ministers and defence ministers of two countries have a joint meeting to discuss strategic issues.
The close cooperation and complex exercises between the Indian Navy and that of Japan and Australia have necessitated agreements for smooth cooperation. Senior defence ministry officials said that such logistics-sharing agreements will significantly enhance the Navy’s capability to operate eastwards, which is an increasing area of interest.
Cautioning that the agreements should not be seen in the context of the Quad initiative, the officials said that individual relations with the nations have progressed to a level where increasing bilateral activity requires such pacts. “It is a reciprocal process and these nations find an advantage in using our infrastructure for their deployments in the region,” the official said.
The Indian Navy has regular exercises with the Japanese Navy, which is a permanent member of the large-scale Malabar series of naval wargames. Engagements with Australia too are on the rise with the regular AUSINDEX series as well as other multilateral and bilateral exercises.
India is also close to finalising a defence logistics sharing agreement with Russia that will simplify interoperability and enable military platforms to receive support and supplies across bases in both nations.
India has similar defence logistics sharing agreements with the US, France and Singapore.