India-Singapore to start new trilateral naval exercise with Thailand

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India-Singapore Defence Relations: India and Singapore have renewed the bilateral contract for conducting joint army training in India. The agreement which lays out an exhaustive framework for training of Singapore Army at Indian facilities was renewed at the third edition of defence ministers’ dialogue between Indian defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her counterpart Dr. Ng Eng Hen in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.

The agreement also provides for joint training for Singapore armed forces in India.
Singapore is a small country and lacks the space for large training facilities and live firing exercises for its armed forces.

Singapore armed forces closely cooperate with Indian forces to train and practice live firing at Indian military facilities.

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Singapore Navy ship at Port Blair.

India and Singapore have been conducting joint naval exercises for the last 25 years and both the navies have last week started the biggest live firing exercise Simbex-2018 off Andman Nicobar island.

Simbex-2018 is most complex maneuver undertaken by both the navies that involves a submarine, multiple surface ships and deployment of aerial assets.

READ: Maiden midair refueling of Tejas aircraft conducted successfully

India and Singapore have decided to expand their naval cooperation to include other important members of ASEAN countries and looked forward to conduct trilateral naval exercise at Andman Sea with Thailand Navy.

Of late, Thailand has increased its military cooperation with India and other friendly countries. Thailand Army also participated in the inaugural exercise of seven BIMSTEC armies in Pune in West India in September 2018.

READ: First ever military exercise of BIMSTEC nations conducted in India

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Army chiefs of participating BIMSTEC countries.

India has increased its involvement with the militaries of Asean countries and recently Nirmala Sitharaman participated in defence ministers meeting of Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus.

At the Asean meet, Sitharaman also delivered a tough message to Pakistan for fomenting trouble in India and warned that India will not hesitate to carry out another short and swift surgical strike on terror launch pads across the border.

Singapore’s Defence Minister also appreciated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message delivered at Shangri La dialogue in Singapore this month.

India has always advocated rule based engagement and freedom of navigation across oceans including South China Sea.

READ: India-Singapore navies begin biggest weapon firing drill Simbex

India also conducts joint patrolling of important sea lanes with the navies of other ASEAN countries and recently it started a joint patrol of Malacca Straits with Indonesian Navy.

Earlier in the day, Dr Ng attended the final sea phase of the 25th edition of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise – SIMBEX on board INS Shakti.

This multi-dimensional exercise witnessed participation of ships, submarines a well as aircraft from both sides and live firings at sea.

Both Ministers also commended the conclusion of the Navy Implementing Arrangement Concerning Mutual Coordination, Logistics and Services Support in June 2018, which together with the Navy Bilateral Agreement concluded in November 2017, have expanded and deepened bilateral naval cooperation.

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Nirmala Sitharaman at Asean Defence Ministers Plus Meet.

Singapore reiterated its support for India’s deep engagement with ASEAN member states, participation in patrols along the Straits of Malacca with Singapore and looks forward to a inaugural conduct of the trilateral maritime exercise with Thailand in the Andaman Sea.
During the meeting, India pressed for adoption of guidelines for Air Military Encounters.

India and Singapore also agreed to step up intelligence and information sharing, particularly in the areas of maritime security and counter terrorism and expand collaboration on submarine safety and rescue.

Ministers also commended the progress in defence technology collaboration under the auspices of the lndia-Singapore Defence Technology Steering Committee and the India-Singapore Defence Industry Working Group.

These joint R&D collaborations included areas such as Combat Care and Vehicle Armour.
India and Singapore also agreed to hold the fourth defence minister’s dialogue in Singapore next year.

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