US, Russia & Iran among 51 nations to participate in India-hosted naval drill : The Tribune India

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US, Russia & Iran among 51 nations to participate in India-hosted naval drill

Exercise aims at addressing common challenges

US, Russia & Iran among 51 nations to participate in India-hosted naval drill


Tribune News Service

Ajay Banerjee

New Delhi, February 14

In a significant development, warships of US, Russia and Iran will be part of a multi-nation naval exercise being hosted by India at Visakhapatnam from February 19 to 27. The exercise will be held in two phases — the harbour phase and the sea phase.

In all, 51 countries will take part in the ‘Milan 2024’ exercise that will see participation of 35 warships and submarines besides 50 planes. Fifteen countries are sending warships or planes. Japan and Australia are sending ships while France will send its maritime plane. India will use both its aircraft carriers — the INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant — and other assets. Naval sources said the warships of the US, Russia and Iran would be in separate teams or tasks during the sea phase of the exercise. “The presence of so many countries shows the acceptability of India to work with diverse partners who may be otherwise at loggerheads with each other,” the sources added. The US has imposed separate sanctions on Russia and Iran.

Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and attacks on merchant vessels by Yemen-based Houthi rebels have rocked the mercantile trade. This will be discussed during the harbour phase of the exercise. Among the invitees are Djibouti, Somalia, Yemen and Eritrea – all four countries have land on either side of the narrow strait of Bab-El Mandeb that leads to the Red Sea and onwards to the Suez Canal.

At a media interaction, Deputy Chief of Indian Navy Vice Admiral Tarun Sobti said, “The aim is to enhance professional interaction and with as many people as possible.” Subject matter experts will hold talks and deep submergence demonstration will be carried out. The sea phase will have exercises on air defence, anti-submarine warfare and tactical exercises.

“We need to work together,” said Vice Admiral Sobti, adding that unmanned operations were a major threat and these would form a part of the discussion.

The harbour phase would comprise an international maritime seminar, international city parade, etc.

35 warships, subs

In all, 51 countries will take part in the ‘Milan 2024’ exercise that will see participation of 35 warships and submarines, besides 50 planes. The drill is being held from Feb 19-27.

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