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First submarine visit to Australia spotlights expansion of India’s Indo-Pacific footprint

Indian Navy submarine INS Vagir in Fremantle, Australia (Image courtesy: Royal Australian Navy)

India and Australia will hone their anti-submarine warfare capabilities in support of a stable and secure Indo-Pacific region as biennial navy exercise ‘AUSINDEX 2023’ begins on the West Coast of Australia starting Tuesday.

In a first, an Indian Navy submarine INS Vagir reached Fremantle – a major submarine base in the Pacific theatre – to participate in the August 22-24 exercise.

The maiden deployment of a submarine to Australia spotlights not just Indian Navy’s capability to undertake sustained operations at extended ranges from the base port for prolonged durations but also showcases the increasing tempo of defence relationship between the two countries.

The Anthony Albanese government continues with its commitment to place India at the heart of Australia’s approach to the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

Indian Navy Submarine
Made-in-India submarine Vagir (Images courtesy: Indian Navy)

INS Vagir, which is the Indian Navy’s fifth Kalvari class submarine, reached Fremantle as the warships of India, Australia, Japan and the United States were engaged in the sea phase of significant Indo-Pacific exercise ‘Malabar 2023’ off the coast of Sydney.

The high-end 10-day tactical exercise which deepens capacity of Quad partners to work together is being hosted by Australia for the first time and will conclude today.

Multi-mission P8I maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft of the Indian Navy, which participated in the exercise Malabar, will join INS Vagir and a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) submarine for “basic, intermediate and advanced-level anti-submarine exercises” during AUSINDEX 2023.

“A warm welcome to the crew of the Indian Navy Submarine INS Vagir to Australia for the first time, providing Australian Navy a valuable opportunity to continue to build on our strong relationship with our Indian Navy partners. Stronger together,” tweeted Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, head of the Royal Australian Navy on Monday.

Exercise AUSINDEX was first held in India in 2015 and has been consistently focusing on anti-submarine warfare, incorporating maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.

As India continues to cement its position as a submarine building nation, in tune with the spirit of Aatmanirbhar Bharat and Make In India, indigenously built INS Vagir was delivered to Indian Navy in December 2022 by the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) Mumbai and was commissioned a month later.

It is built in collaboration with the Naval Group (formerly known as Direction des Constructions Navales or Direction des Constructions Navales International) of France and marked a significant milestone in the growing prowess of Indian defence industry.

According the defence ministry, the Scorpene Vagir enjoys superior stealth features such as advanced acoustic absorption techniques, low radiated noise levels, hydro-dynamically optimised shape, which makes it harder to detect underwater. It also has the ability to launch an attack on the enemy using precision-guided weapons.

The attack can be launched with both torpedoes and tube launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface. The stealth of this potent platform is enhanced by the special attention provided to her characteristic underwater signatures.

INS Vagir

Notably, Scorpene submarines can undertake multifarious types of missions, that is anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying, area surveillance, etc. The submarine is designed to operate in all theatres of operation, showcasing interoperability with other components of a Naval Task Force. It is a potent platform, marking a transformational shift in India’s submarine operations.

Also Read: Eye on China, Australia hosts Quad maritime exercise Malabar for first time