The Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean "Eye in the Sky" program to conduct combined aerial maritime patrols over the pirate infested waters in and around the Straits of Malacca (SOM) achieved an important milestone on December 6th, when representatives of the three nations, meeting in Kuala Lumpur, agreed on a comprehensive set of standard operating procedures. Trilateral patrols are expected to begin shortly after the SOPs are formally signed, in about ten days. Despite the absence of formal SOPs, Malaysia and Singapore have been conducting combined patrols for some months now using an informal set of guidelines.
Reportedly, two of the three countries, Indonesia and Malaysia, have held conversations with Japan to arrange for training in aerial maritime patrol operations, a step that might not only suggest possible future Japanese participation in the program but may, more concretely, lead to local procurement of P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft built under license in Japan by Kawasaki.
In a related development, elements of the Malaysian Navy are currently taking part in maritime counter-terrorism exercises with the Philippine Navy, in the southern Philippines.