Navy, IAF begin passage exercise with U.S. carrier group in Indian Ocean


The exercise aims to strengthen the bilateral relationship and cooperation by demonstrating the ability to integrate and coordinate comprehensively in maritime operations.

The Indian Navy and the Air Force began a two-day passage exercise on Wednesday with U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group Ronald Reagan during its transit through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

โ€œThe Indian Naval warships along with aircraft from Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF) will be engaged in joint multi-domain operations with the U.S. Carrier Strike Group (CSG)…,โ€ the Navy said.

The exercise aims to strengthen the bilateral relationship and cooperation by demonstrating the ability to integrate and coordinate comprehensively in maritime operations.

โ€œThis is what maritime theatre operations would look like. A CSG with integral air power and warships supported by land-based maritime aircraft,โ€ a naval officer said.

Naval ships INS Kochi and Teg, along with P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft and MiG 29K fighters, are participating in the exercise. For the exercise in the area of responsibility of the Southern Air Command, the IAF forces are operating from bases under four operational commands and include Jaguar and Su-30 MKI fighters, Phalcon and Netra early warning aircraft and IL-78 air to air refueller aircraft, an IAF statement said.

The U.S.โ€™s CSG comprises Nimitz class aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Halsey and Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh. The U.S. carrier group is expected to field F-18 fighters and E-2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft for the exercise being carried out south of Thiruvananthapuram on the western seaboard.

โ€œHigh tempo operations during the exercise 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,โ€ a Navy statement said.

Militaries of India and the U.S. have been holding regular exercises in all domains and even during the COVID-19 pandemic, have held passage exercises.

โ€œThe exercise with the U.S. CSG 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 air power domain,โ€ the IAF said.

The multi-spectral capability of the IAF in the IOR also includes Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions and logistics support undertaken in support of friendly nations in the region, it added.

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