Representational image. (AP)
Representational image. (AP)

India, US to carry out joint drills in Indian Ocean from today

The exercise comes a week after defence minister Rajnath Singh called for “an open and inclusive order” in the Indo-Pacific region, including the South China Sea, with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries
UPDATED ON JUN 23, 2021 09:19 AM IST

The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy will on Wednesday kick off two-day drills with the US Navy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) amid China’s attempts to expand its presence in the strategic region, officials familiar with the matter said. The exercise will also involve the US Navy’s Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

The IAF will take part in the exercise with its Jaguar fighters, Sukhoi-30 MKIs, Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control system) aircraft, Netra AEW&C (airborne early warning and control) aircraft, and Il-78 mid-air refuellers. The US Navy’s air assets will include F-18 jets and E-2C Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft, the officials said.

Indian warships INS Kochi and Teg along with P-8I submarine hunter planes and MiG-29K aircraft are also taking part in the exercise.

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The exercise comes a week after defence minister Rajnath Singh called for “an open and inclusive order” in the Indo-Pacific region, including the South China Sea, with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries. Singh reiterated New Delhi’s support to freedom of navigation, over-flight and unimpeded commerce for all in international waters in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ashish Moghe said the IAF has extensive experience in maritime operations in the IOR. “This has been consolidated over the years by the conduct of exercises from the country’s island territories…This engagement with the US CSG offers one more opportunity to undertake joint operations in the maritime domain with a friendly foreign power.”

He said the exercise will focus on multiple areas including enhancing aspects of interoperability, nuances of international integrated maritime search and rescue operations, and exchange of best practices in the maritime airpower domain.

The navy said in a statement that the Indian warships along with aircraft from the Indian Navy and IAF will be engaged in joint multi-domain operations with the CSG comprising Nimitz-class aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh. “High tempo operations during the exercise will include advanced air defence exercises, cross-deck helicopter operations, and anti-submarine exercises. The participating forces will endeavour to hone their war-fighting skills and enhance their interoperability as an integrated force to promote peace, security, and stability in the maritime domain.”

The Indian Navy is carrying out round-the-clock surveillance in the IOR, which, it believes, China will inevitably try to enter in its quest to become a global power, just as it has laid claim to large portions of the disputed South China Sea.

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