08 April 2007


India Plans Naval War Games with China, Japan, Russia, US

New Delhi (AFP): India is sending its largest warships for joint manoeuvres with China, Japan, Russia and the US where it will showcase its growing naval strength, officials said Thursday.

Three Indian destroyers, a missile corvette, tankers and other combat ships will kick off the two-month series with five days of exercises with US warships beginning April 6 off the Japanese island of Okinawa, they said.

"The thrust of these exercises will be on combating terrorism on high seas including boarding and seizure of illegal-run ships," Rear Admiral Pardeep Chauhan said as the ships headed for the Pacific Ocean.

During the second leg of exercises, the Indian ships will engage the Russian navy in "intensive battle manoeuvres" east off the Chinese-Russian borders.

The programme also included mock battles between Indian, Japanese and US warships off Yokosuka coast on April 17 and exercises with the Vietnamese navy on the return trip in June, Chauhan said.

"A part of the Indian contingent will also proceed to China's Qingdo province to participate in on-shore and off-shore exercises with their navy," he told a news conference.

India and China, who fought a brief but a bitter border war in 1962, are now in the process of developing military-to-military contacts and closer trade and diplomatic ties.

India's 137-ship navy in recent years has increased its presence on strategic energy routes such as the Indian Ocean's busy Malacca Straits, signalling its expanding maritime reach.

During the 2004 tsunami, India turned down offers of American assistance and instead sent out its navy to Sri Lanka and Indonesia besides evacuating 48,000 victims from the Andamans archipelago.

The Indian navy, which in 2005 purchased a second-hand aircraft carrier from Russia, hopes to acquire two nuclear-powered submarines from the country, its largest arms supplier.

Army's wargames to test reflexes against nuke, bio attacks

NEW DELHI: In one of the largest wargames of recent times, the Army is gearing up to launch a strike corps exercise in the deserts of Rajasthan later this month to test its "pro-active war strategy" and network-centric operations.

The huge exercise will see the Mathura-based 1 Corps unleash its armoured, artillery and infantry elements in full flow to practice operational concepts of being prepared for "short duration" battles of "high intensity" at "short notice", under an overall NBC (nuclear-chemical-biological) overhang.

The "training phase" of the exercise, codenamed Ashwamedh , is already underway and will be followed by mobilisation in "concentration areas" before the final culmination phase near Bikaner around April 24-May 1, say sources.

Incidentally, this will be the first time that 1 Corps, one of three "strike formations" of the 1.13-million strong Army (the others being the 2 Corps at Ambala and the 21 Corps at Bhopal), will be exercising after it was shifted to the new South-Western Command (SWAC), headquartered at Jaipur.

SWAC, the Army’s sixth regional command, came into existence in 2005 as part of the overall plan to restructure formations based along the Indo-Pak border to strengthen strike capabilities for multiple thrusts across the border.

The command is supposed to be the Army's test-bed for "high-tech weaponry and capabilities" and as such, the exercise will revolve around network-centric operations, with commanders in the simulated battle-field having access to "real-time" satellite and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) imagery through data-links.

Interestingly, Army chief General J J Singh, who is keen to maintain the "operational readiness" of his force, was commanding the 1 Corps during 'Operation Parakram', the 10-month forward troop mobilisation after the December 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament.

One of the most important lessons learnt during 'Operation Parakram' was that slow mobilisation - with strike formations taking almost a month to assemble at the "launch pads" along the border - will not do any longer.

"The idea is to mobilise and strike hard and fast. This will ensure surprise in enemy ranks. It will also give the international community less time to intervene," said a senior Army officer.

"This is where the concept of relatively smaller integrated battle groups for swift strikes across the border fits in. The strikes, of course, will have to be calibrated to ensure nuclear weapons do not come into play in any war scenario," he added.

Navy To Conduct Massive Wargames

(Defence Talk)

NEW DELHI: In one of the largest maritime exercises in recent times, India's western and eastern naval fleets have amassed their warships, submarines, aircraft and helicopters on the western seaboard to conduct intensive combat manoeuvres in the entire Arabian Sea.

Given the sheer size of this "theatre readiness operational exercise"or "Tropex"and its proximity to the Pakistani waters, New Delhi has given "advance notice" to Islamabad under a long-standing bilateral agreement.

The agreement, inked in April 1991, is a safeguard to prevent "any crisis situation"from developing due to "misreading"of the each other's "intentions" during the conduct of large war games.

Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Army Chief General J J Singh will be witnessing the "work up" of the two fleets on Friday, which will be followed by the "tactical phase" of the exercise later this month.

"Over 50 frontline warships, including aircraft carrier 'INS Viraat', Delhi-class destroyers, Talwar-class stealth frigates and Kilo-class submarines, will be part of Tropex," said a source.

"Tropex will also include elements from the Army, IAF and Coast Guard. From the IAF, for instance, maritime strike Jaguar fighters will take part in the manoeuvres," he added.

Apart from its sheer scale, the exercise is significant since one of its objectives will be to practice the operational concept of "maritime manoeuvre from the sea".

The concept is basically designed to ensure that in the short, swift and intense conflicts of the future, the Navy is able to favourably influence the outcome of the land-air battle.

Eastern Fleet Exercises

29 March 2007

Ships of the Eastern Fleet, under the command of the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, Rear Admiral R K Dhowan, are presently on an 'Overseas Deployment' (OSD) to the South-east and East-Asian regions. The group consists of the guided-missile destroyers Mysore, Rana, and Ranjit, the guided-missile corvette Kuthar, and, the fleet tanker Jyoti.

During the two-month deployment, from 18 March to 23 May 07, the ships are scheduled to effect port-calls at a number of ports, spreading the message of goodwill, presenting a microcosmic mosaic of India in every facet - from the sociological to the technological, and, building bridges of friendship across the seas that make every littoral state a neighbour of India. The scheduled ports of call include Singapore and Yokosuka (which is located at the entrance of Tokyo Bay, in Japan). The port call at Yokosuka is particularly significant as it is a major event in the ongoing celebrations of '2007' as the 'India-Japan Friendship Year'). No less important are the port-calls at Qingdao (which is located on the southern coast of the Shandong peninsula of China, bordering the Yellow Sea) and Vladivostok (located on the Sea of Japan, some 100 km east of the Russo-Chinese border - the name itself means "Lord of the East"). Also of significance are port-calls at Ho Chi Minh city (located near the Mekong river delta in Vietnam and earlier known as Saigon), and, Manila (capital of the Philippines).

The deployment as a whole is an intrinsic part of the ongoing effort at 'constructive engagement' within the maritime field, being undertaken by the Indian Navy in concert with other instruments and mechanisms of the nation's diplomacy. The port-calls and the opportunities to engage and exercise with the navies of the regions would enable the Indian Navy to gain and share operational and doctrinal expertise, transformational experiences, examine and imbibe 'best-practices', promote interoperability, and, enhance 'maritime domain awareness', - all of which are areas that the Indian Navy lays especial emphasis upon.

The first of the exercises to be undertaken during the current deployment is the 2007 edition of the bilateral exercise 'SIMBEX', which are a regular feature of the operational interaction between the Indian Navy and the Navy of the Republic of Singapore, and, which involves both, harbour and sea-going segments. This year, the first phase of exercise ''SIMBEX' was conducted in and off Port Blair, while the second phase has just concluded at and off Singapore, from 22 to 28 Mar 07.

The next on the agenda is the 2007 edition of the annual exercise between the Indian and the US navies, which bears the generic name 'MALABAR'. 'MALABAR CY-07' (the acronym 'CY' stands for 'calendar year') will also be undertaken in two phases, with the first phase being with units of the USA's Pacific Command and conducted off the Japanese island of Okinawa (- which is the largest in Japan's Ryukyu chain of islands that stretch well south of the four main islands of that country), from 06 to 11 Apr 07. When and where the second phase of 'Malabar-CY 07' will take place is still under examination.

The Eastern Fleet commander will then split his forces. One group of two destroyers will proceed to Qingdao from 12-16 Apr 07, where they will, on 17 April, exercise with units of the navy of the People's Republic of China. The remaining ships will, on 17 Apr 07 itself, undertake a daylong trilateral exercise, off Yokosuka, with units of the 'Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force' (JMSDF) and the US navy.

The Indian naval force will consolidate itself thereafter and proceed to Vladivostok, where they will engage in the harbour phase (22 to 24 Apr 07) and, later, the sea-going phase (24 to 26 Apr 07) of the biennial exercise 'Indra-2007', involving units of the Russian Navy. During the return leg of the deployment, once the fleet-units are off the Philippines, they will once again split into two groups, with one group engaging in 'passage-exercises' with units of the navy of the Philippines, and the other, engaging units of the navy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in similar passage exercises.

Two ships of the fleet will thereafter proceed to Singapore to participate in the 2007 edition of the prestigious 'International Maritime Defence Exhibition' (IMDEX) hosted every two years by that country. INS Mysore and Kuthar would participate in 'IMDEX' at Singapore from 15 to 19 May 07. This would provide us with an opportunity to showcase our ship building capability through these indigenously designed and built ships, as also our ability to align and keep pace with the rapid technological advancements in the field of military hardware and systems. The Chief of the Naval Staff will, himself be present for the event, as will his counterparts from as many as twenty-two countries. IMDEX-2007 will be followed by a passage-exercise involving all participating navies and our ships will be representing our country in this activity as well. The final operational engagement will be a bilateral passage-exercise with ships of the 'Royal New Zealand Navy', before the deployment draws to a close at Port Blair, from where ships will resume their normal in-country activities.

The Indian Navy ships proceeding on the overseas deployment are, as always, equipped to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief at short notice, if required. This stems from our experience of the past, wherein our ships, while on overseas deployments, have had to be diverted to render assistance. In 2006, for example, such short-notice assistance was called-for and provided to Indonesia (in the aftermath of the Yogyakarta earthquake) and was also in evidence during the non-combatant evacuation operations (Op Sukoon) undertaken in respect of a number of nationals, who were safely moved from the war-ravaged port of Beirut to Cyprus, during the Israeli action in Lebanon.

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