India, US conduct the two-day naval exercise in the Indian Ocean
India, US conducted two-day naval exercise ahead of French war games with Quad nations
The navies of India and the United States on Monday concluded a two-day exercise in the eastern Indian Ocean region with the aim of demonstrating their strengthening defense and military partnership. The passage exercise or ‘PASSEX’ was kicked-off on Sunday with the participation of Indian Navy’s INS Shivalik and long-range maritime patrol aircraft P8I. The US, on the other hand, deployed the nuclear-powered USS Theodore Rosevelt carrier strike group consisting of warships such as Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and USS John Finn.
A spokesperson of the Indian Navy said that for the first time, the Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed Sukhoi-30MKI fighters armed with BrahMossupersonic cruise missiles in the exercise with the aim of “enhancing jointmanship” with the US Navy. It also provided IAF with an opportunity to practice air interception and air defence with the US Navy, the officer added.
The naval exercise was conducted to ‘consolidate the synergy and interoperability achieved during the 24th edition of the Malabar exercise’ that took place in November 2020. The navies of the four Quad (Quadrilateral coalition) countries – India, US, Japan and Australia – participated in Malabar maritime exercise in the Indian Ocean last year.
The naval exercise has come a week after US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visited India as part of his first three-nation tour to reinforce the Joe Biden administration’s commitment to its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region. During his visit, the US Defence Secretary met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to further consolidate the robust defence cooperation between New Delhi and Washington. The two leaders also discussed ways to enhance defence cooperation and expand military-to-military engagement across various services.
“We are keen to work together to realize the full potential of the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership,” the Indian Ministry of Defence said in its statement.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy is also gearing up to participate in a French naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal next month. This will be the first time that the Indian Navy will be a part of the French naval exercise known as La Perouse. It will also see the participation of other Quad member countries, including the US, Australia and Japan.
These military exercises are taking place amid escalating tensions between India and China in the aftermath of the border standoff in Ladakh last year.