The Indian and Russian navies will hold a mega military exercise in the Bay of Bengal on September 4 and 5 to further bolster their operational interoperability in dealing with emerging security challenges, official sources said on Tuesday.
As part of the Indra Navy exercise, a plethora of maritime drills such as gun firing on surface and aerial targets, tracking exercises and replenishment at sea approaches are planned, they said.
The exercise is taking place at a time when India is engaged in a bitter border row with China in eastern Ladakh.
The Indian Navy has significantly expanded its presence in the Indian Ocean Region, deploying a plethora of warships and submarines following the border row to send across a message to Beijing as the maritime space around the Malacca Strait is very critical for China’s supply chain through sea routes.
In July, the Indian Navy carried out a military exercise with a US Navy carrier strike group led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz off the coast of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The USS Nimitz is the world’s largest warship.
The Indra exercise was earlier planned in Vladivostok in Russia but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Russian Navy ships Admiral Vinogradov, Admiral Tributs and Boris Butoma along with a fleet of helicopters will be part of the exercise, the sources said.
The Indian Navy will deploy Ranvijay (destroyer), Sahyadri (frigate) and Kiltan (corvette) and Shakti (tanker) with integrated helicopters, they said.
The sources said the exercise will be non-contact and at sea only passage exercise.”The exercise will once again showcase the level of friendship, trust and interoperability between the Indian Navy and the Russian Navy,” said a source.
The Russian naval fleet is visiting the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka from August 31 to September 3. India-Russia Indra exercises among the armies, navies and air forces of the two countries have been taking place since 2005.
In the exercise with the US Navy in July, four frontline warships of the Indian Navy participated. The US carrier strike group was transiting through the Indian Ocean Region on its way from the South China Sea.
The US Navy carrier strike group comprises USS Nimitz, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett and USS Ralph Johnson.
The Indian Navy carried out similar exercises with the Japanese navy in June.