October 22, 2021 12:24:38 pm
The first-ever tri-services joint exercise between India and the UK began on October 21 and will go on for a week. Named Konkan Shakti 2021, it “aims to derive mutual benefits from each other’s experiences and also showcase the continuing cooperation between the two countries,” the Navy said.
Chief of Defence Staff of the UK Sir Nick Carter is also on a visit to India.
The Navy said on Thursday that maritime cooperation is a “distinguishable symbol of the commitment of both nations in ensuring a positive climate at sea for enhancing strategic stability and promoting global economic prosperity”, and the “interoperability achieved over the years, as a result of such exercises, has proved to be operationally beneficial to armed forces of both countries”.
The maritime component of the exercise will be conducted off India’s west coast in two phases. Harbour phase will be held in Mumbai from October 21 to October 23, moving to the sea phase which concludes on October 27.
“The naval linkages between India and the United Kingdom is one of antiquity and, over a period, it has grown substantially in terms of interoperability and synergy. Over decades now, both navies have undertaken bilateral exercises, exchanges and enhanced their technical cooperation. Rightly so, this has formed the basis for the maiden tri-service bilateral exercise, ‘Konkan Shakti -21’,” it added.
UK’s Royal Navy is being represented by its HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier with her integral F35 fighter jets and helicopters. The Royal Navy’s participating fleet will also have Type 45 Daring Class air-defence destroyer HMS Defender, Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Fort Victoria, and a Royal Netherland Navy Frigate HNLMS Evertsen.
For the Indian Navy, three of its stealth guided missile destroyers INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Chennai, two stealth frigates, INS Talwar and INS Teg, and the tanker INS Aditya will participate, along with Sea King 42B, Kamov-31 and Chetak helicopters, MIG 29K fighter aircraft, Dornier and P8i (maritime patrol aircraft), and a submarine.
The Indian Air Force will have its Jaguars, Su-30 Mki, AWACS, AEW&C and flight refuel aircraft participate.
The exercise at sea will feature advanced warfare tactics, anti-submarine warfare exercises, over-the-horizon targeting drills, air defence exercise, cross deck landings and other complex manoeuvers, said the Navy. It mentioned that the joint phase of the exercise will have air-tactical operations involving F35s, MiG 29Ks and Indian Air Force elements.
The Air Force had participated in an operational engagement with the UK Carrier Strike Group on October 19 and 20.
The land phase of the exercise will be held at Chaubatia in Uttarakhand with UK’s officers and troops from the 1st Battalion of the Fusilier Regiment and Indian Army’s Gorkha Rifles 1/11 participating.
The exercise and visit of UK’s CDS is yet another marker of India’s growing defence collaboration with global military powers by conducting such war games to better understand each other and improve their interoperability.
In the last few weeks, India also participated in the second edition of the naval wargaming exercise Malabar, held in the Bay of Bengal, and US Navy Chief Admiral Michael Gilday was in the country for a visit.
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