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Historically India-Malaysia defence relations date back to the colonial days when the troops of Madras Native Infantry were called upon to serve in Singapore, Malacca and Penang in the beginning of Nineteenth century. During the Second World War, units of British Indian Army fought the Japanese for the defence of Malaya and Singapore. Before Independence, some officers from Federated Malay States were trained in the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun. One of them, Tun Hussein Onn, subsequently joined politics and rose to become the third Prime Minister of the country (1976-1981) while another, Tun Ibrahim Ismail advanced up the Military Hierarchy, to become the Chief of Defence Forces (1971-77).
Malaysian Armed Forces officers and men were initially trained in India but as Malaysia established its own training establishments, training in India has become more selective, and now focuses only on specialized courses. Malaysian officers regularly attend the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) Course, the National Defence College (NDC) Course and several other specialized courses in India. Indian officers regularly attend the Malaysian Command and Staff Course as well as other specialized courses. Two grandsons of Sultan Iskandar Haj, Late King of Johor have passed out from Indian Military Academy in Dehradun. One of them, Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, did his attachment with 61 Cavalry in 2007 and also led the Regimental contingent at the Republic Day Parade on 26 January 2007.
India-Malaysia defence relations have steadily grown over the years from military training to include supply of defence equipment and enhanced security dialogues. The MOU on Defence Cooperation between the two countries, signed in 1993 is the basic foundation stone of the present day defence relationship which caters for widening the scope of existing bilateral cooperation to include joint ventures, joint development projects, procurement, logistic and maintenance support and training. Malaysia-India Defence Cooperation Committee (MIDCOM) meetings jointly chaired by the two Defence Secretaries, meets regularly to review the progress in defence cooperation on an annual basis. The last MIDCOM meeting was held at New Delhi in Jun 2013. Staff talks between the three services have been operationalized and are held regularly on annual basis. The 3rd Army to Army Staff talks were held at Kuala Lumpur in December 2012; the 5th Air to Air Staff Talks at New Delhi in December 2012; and the 5th Navy to Navy Talks were held at New Delhi in Jun 2013.
In the last few years itself, numerous high level visits have been exchanged between the two countries. Hon'ble Raksha Mantri of India, Shri A K Antony, undertook a very successful visit of Malaysia in January 2008. His discussions with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Malaysia were held in an atmosphere of bonhomie and covered substantial issues on all facets of bilateral relationship. The two Defence Ministers, in their joint statement, agreed to further expand the scope of Defence Cooperation. The Raksha Mantri's visit was closely followed by the official visits of the Indian Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Air Staff to Malaysia and from Malaysia, the Chief of Air Staff and Chief of Defence Forces to India. More recent visits include the Indian Chief of Air Staff’s visit to Malaysia in February 2012, the Malaysian Chief of Army & Chief of Navy visit to India in April 2012 and the Indian Chief of Naval Staff’s visit to Malaysia in Sep 2013.
In 2008, India accepted Malaysia's request to train the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) personnel on the operation and maintenance of the state of art Su-30 MKM aircraft. The initial training for the RMAF personnel was conducted in India by Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) and Indian Air Force. Subsequently, a composite team of flying and technical training instructors was deployed at Gong Kedah Base as part of Indian Air Force Training Team (IAFTT) for two and a half years to impart the training. The training successfully concluded in Sep 2010. The IAFTT team personnel were felicitated in a special ceremony prior to their departure by General Dato Sri Rodzali bin Daud, Chief of Royal Malaysian Air Force.
Indian Navy has been a regular participant at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) in Malaysia and Indian Naval Ships and Indian Coast Guard Ships frequently make port calls at Malaysian Ports. In 2011, Indian Coast Guard Ships ICGS Sankalp, ICGS Veera and Indian Naval Ships INS Ranvijay, INS Airavat, INS Tir & INS Krishana made port call at Malaysia. INS Kora and INS Baratang participated in LIMA 2011 at Langkawi. In 2012, INS Ranjit, INSV Mhadei, INS Rana, INS Shivalik, INS Shakti, INS Karmuk, INS Sujata and Indian Coast Guard Ship ICGS Varuna made Port call at Malaysia. In 2013; IN Training Ship STS Sudarshini in Feb; ICGS Durga Bai Deshmukh & ICGS Samudra Peheredar in Feb; group of four Indian Naval Ships from the Eastern Fleet (INS Shakti, INS Satpura, INS Ranvijay and INS Kirch) made a port call at Port Kelang as part of the OSD-2013 in Jun. The Malaysian Navy Ship RMN KD Perak participated in MILAN 2010 and RMN Ship KD Selangor participated in MILAN 2012. The newly acquired Scorpene Class Submarine KD Tun Razak on her maiden voyage from Spain to Malaysia made port call at Kochi, India in June 2010.
Cooperation between Indian Army and Malaysian Army has also been growing steadily. There is regular exchange of courses at functional and higher levels, including training on UN Peace Keeping Operations. The inaugural bilateral Army Exercise HARIMAU SHAKTI (a command post exercise) was held at Kuala Lumpur in October 2012. The next Exercise is scheduled to be held in India in 2014.
India also regularly sends its National Defence College Course, Higher Command Course, Higher Defence Management Course and Higher Air / Naval Command courses on visits to Malaysia. The Higher Defence Management Course delegation visited Malaysia in October 2010, October 2011, November 2012, the Higher Command Course delegation visited Malaysia in November 2011 and the Naval Higher Command Course visited Malaysia in February 2012. Indian Defence Production companies and the Indian Armed Forces personnel and assets have also been regularly participating in the Malaysian Defence Exhibitions (DSA) and Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA). High level delegations from India participated in DSA-10 held in April 2010 and DSA -12 held in April 2012 at Kuala Lumpur. AOC-in-C, South Western Air Command led the Indian Delegation to LIMA - 11 at Langkawi in December 2011. Malaysia also regularly sends high level delegations to the DEF EXPOs and Aerospace Expositions shows in India. The Deputy Chief of RMAF led the Malaysian delegation to Aero India 11 held at Bangalore in February 2011 and the Chief of Army and Chief of Navy, Malaysia led the Malaysian delegation to DEFEXPO -12 at New Delhi in March 2012.
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