India-UK Konkan Shakti Military Exercise: Indian Military and the UK defence forces have been engaged in a series of complex maneuvers as part of the first ever tri-service military exercise Konkan Shakti, which is conducted in Arabian Sea this week.
The Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) led by its largest warship HMS Queen Elizabeth and several other front-line ships of the two navies are participating in the week-long war games off the Konkan coast in Western India.
HMS Queen Elizabeth has brought Lockheed Martin built F-35B stealth jets that are training with India’s Sukhoi-30 MKI, Mig-29K naval jets and Jaguar long range bombers.
After the US and Russia, the UK is only the third country with which India is conducting a tri-services exercise.
The British High Commission said personnel of all three services from both countries were participating in the tri-service exercise and described it as the most ambitious conducted by the two countries to date.
It said the exercise is another step in deepening bilateral defence and security ties and boosting strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. The high commission said the exercise provides an opportunity for the armed forces of two outward-looking, confident democracies to work in synergy and uphold our shared commitment to peace and security.
“The CSG’s engagement with India showcases the deepening comprehensive strategic partnership. Both the Indian and the Royal Navy are blue-water, multi-carrier navies, which places us in a very exclusive club,” said First Sea Lord Admiral and Chief of Naval Staff of the UK Admiral Tony Radakin.
“Our growing interactions are a testimony to the shared commitment to a rules-based international system, a belief in the values of open trade, and in the importance of the freedom of the high seas — a right conveyed on all nations,” he said.
A spokesperson for Indian Navy said the sea phase of first tri-service exercise started off the Konkan coast in the Arabian Sea on Sunday after the completion of an exhaustive harbour phase.
The official said that all participating units were split into two opposing forces with the aim of achieving ‘sea control’ to land Army ground-troops at a pre-designated site.
He said one force comprised INS Chennai, other warships of the Indian Navy as well as HMS Richmond, the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate.
The other force was operated under the UK’s Carrier Strike Group comprising aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, other UK and Netherland naval ships, and Indian warships.
“The two forces integrated within their groups with exercises such as replenishment at sea approaches, air direction and strike operations by fighter aircraft (MiG 29Ks and F35Bs), cross control of helicopters (Sea King, Chetak and Wildcat), transiting through war-at-sea scenarios,” said the official.
He said the simulated induction of Army troops was also undertaken and was followed by the setting up of a joint command operations centre.
The two forces thereafter effected a rendezvous at sea with advanced air and sub-surface exercises.
The air operations included strikes on the combined formation by Indian maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) Dornier, fighters of the Indian Navy MiG 29Ks, Royal Navy’s F35Bs and Indian Air Force’s SU-30 and Jaguar jets, he said.
The officials said sub-surface exercises with an Indian Scorpene-class submarine and underwater remote-controlled vehicle EMATT, operated by the Royal Navy, were undertaken through the night.