Navy deploying MiG-29K jets to key bases in north

ByHT Correspondent, New Delhi
Jul 22, 2020 12:09 AM IST

The Indian Navy is in the process of deploying its MiG-29K fighter jets to key air force bases in northern India amid the ongoing border tension with China in the sensitive Ladakh sector, people familiar with the developments said, asking not to be named.

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The navy has a fleet of at least 40 MiG-29K fighters, of which 18 are deployed on India’s sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, and the rest are based in Goa.

Some of the jets are being moved from Goa to IAF bases in the north keeping in mind the current security scenario, said one of the officials cited above. IAF has moved several of its fighters from bases in North India to the Ladakh sector as part of India’s plan to strengthen is military posture there, said a second official. It was not immediately clear in what role the naval fighters will be used.

“If assets and operational pilots are available, why not utilise them?” said naval affairs expert Captain DK Sharma (retd).

The Indian Navy has been a part of the military’s ongoing efforts in the Ladakh sector.

The navy’s P-8I maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft have been used for surveillance in the region, while their primary role encompasses carrying out anti-submarine warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance of the oceans. The P-8Is, imported from the United States, carried out similar surveillance missions during the 2017 Doklam standoff.

The navy has also been active in the Indian Ocean region, where it is keeping a close watch on possible Chinese naval activities. On Monday, a US Navy carrier strike group, led by USS Nimitz, conducted maritime drills with Indian warships in the Indian Ocean, against the backdrop of the India-China border standoff. The passage exercise involved a total of eight Indian and US warships.

The drills also came at a time when tensions have mounted over China’s activities in South China Sea, where the US Navy just conducted a major exercise that involved two carrier strike groups.

The navy has been on an operational alert in the Indian Ocean, where scores of warships are ready for any task in the aftermath of the border row.

It has positioned warships along critical sea lanes of communications and choke points under its mission-based deployment model and the vessels could be diverted for any mission.

Indian warships are deployed from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Strait, and northern Bay of Bengal to the south-east coast of Africa.

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