India kicks off massive naval exercise in backdrop of China-Pakistan collusiveness | India News – Times of India



NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday kicked off a massive naval combat exercise with warships, submarines, fighter jets, maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters to test operational preparedness in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), amid the growing collusiveness between China and Pakistan in the maritime domain.
The Tropex or the `theatre level operational readiness exercise’, which is conducted biennially, has brought the country’s western and eastern fleets together as well as units from the Army, IAF and Coast Guard to hone both offensive and defensive capabilities in the IOR.
“Tropex, which will continue till March, will test the combat readiness of the combined fleets of the Navy to operate in a multi-threat environment. It will also facilitate operational level interaction with the Army, IAF and the Coast Guard, which will further strengthen interoperability and joint operations in a complex environment,” an officer said.
The concern, however, is that while the Indian Navy may have deployed dozens of frontline destroyers, frigates, corvettes, submarines and missile boats for the exercise, India has been without an operational aircraft carrier for almost three years now.
The newly-commissioned 45,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is still without its all-important fighter jet complement, while the older INS Vikramaditya is still to become operational after a major refit-and-maintenance cycle.
This when China, with the world’s largest navy with 355 warships and submarines, now deploys seven to eight naval vessels and spy ships in the IOR at any given time, and is concurrently helping Pakistan build a maritime force to challenge India in the Arabian Sea.
Beijing, for instance, is supplying Islamabad with four advanced frigates and eight Yuan-class diesel-electric submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP) for greater underwater endurance. Indian diesel-electric submarines are as of now still some distance away from being equipped with AIP, which somewhat narrows the gap with the virtually limitless endurance of nuclear-powered submarines.
The Indian Navy does certainly enjoy a major logistical advantage over the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) in the IOR as of now. “But the Plan is looking for overseas bases and turnaround facilities all over IOR, in addition to Djibouti, Karachi and Gwadar. It’s also a matter of time that China begins to send carrier battle groups (CBGs) to the IOR,” a senior officer said.
While Plan is relatively new to the intricate and complex art of operating CBGs, it already has two aircraft carriers in Liaoning and Shandong. After `launching’ the its third carrier – the 80,000-tonne Fujian – last year, China is also fast-building a fourth one.
During Tropex, the Navy said all its `combatants’ will be put through complex maritime operational deployments to validate and refine the force’s concept of operations, including operational logistics and interoperability with other services.
“The exercise is being conducted in different phases, both in harbour and at sea, and encompasses various facets of combat operations, including live weapon firings,” the officer said.





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