Eye on China, India begins drill with US

War games: Comes a month after similar Sino-Pakistan exercise in Tibet

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23

The Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force are separately participating in joint exercises with the sword arm of the US Seventh Fleet in the Indian Ocean, south of Thiruvananthapuram.

Besides sending out strategic signals about the joint intent to defend maritime interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the two-day mega exercise is another step in the growing operational cooperation between the two militaries. It involves a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, destroyers, frigates, maritime surveillance aircraft and several types of fighter jets. The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, flagship of the US Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5, which in turn is with the Seventh Fleet, is currently passing through the Indian Ocean.

The IAF’s assets drawn from four operational commands will jointly simulate attack scenarios such as targeting warships with jets drawn from USS Ronald Reagan. The Navy’s destroyer and frigate will join hands with American warships to hone air-defence skills and anti-submarine warfare.

A joint fly-past during the exercise will also be executed by IAF, Indian Navy and US Navy aircraft.

Interestingly, the Indo-US military exercise comes a month after China and Pakistan conducted an air force-level joint military exercise in Tibet to target warships, launch land attacks from sea and sharpen air-defence skills.

The Indian Navy said the joint exercise will strengthen bilateral relationship and cooperation “by demonstrating the ability to integrate and coordinate comprehensively in maritime operations”.

India’s maritime strategy is in high gear and New Delhi is working in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with Japan, Australia and the United States in the Indo-Pacific.

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