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India and the US begin yet another naval exercise with a clear message to China

A joint flypast by IAF and the Indian Navy during the integrated exercise with the US Navy Ronald Reagan CSG which got underway on Wednesday (Image courtesy: Twitter/Indian Air Force)

A two-day high intensity naval exercise between India and the United States began in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) today, to deepen strategic ties, anchored by a common interest in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Just south of Thiruvananthapuram, on the western seaboard, the Indian Air Force (IAF) Jaguars, Su-30 MKI fighters, AWACS, AEW&C and Air to Air Refueller aircraft will participate in operational engagements with the US F-18 fighters and E-2C Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft.

At the same time, Indian Naval Ships Kochi and Teg along with P8I and MiG 29K aircraft will participate in the Passage Exercise with US Navy Carrier Strike Group Ronald Reagan during its transit through IOR.

India United States Joint Exercise

The Indian warships along with aircraft from Indian Navy and Indian Air Force will be engaged in joint multi-domain operations with the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) comprising Nimitz class aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Halsey and Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh.

These manoeuvres are being undertaken at a time when India and US share a common concern over  China's naval assertion in the Indo-Pacific region. India, along with the US, Japan and Australia are part of the Indo-Pacific Quad, which is rapidly evolving to cover areas beyond security including alternative supply chains and vaccines.

The Exercise in the Area of Responsibility (AOR) of Southern Air Command will see the IAF forces operate from bases under four operational commands.

IAF has extensive experience in maritime operations in the IOR. This has been consolidated over the years by conduct of exercises from the country’s island territories, including participation in international exercises.

The multi-spectral capability of the IAF in IOR also includes Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions as well as logistics support undertaken in support of friendly nations in the region. This engagement with the US CSG offers one more opportunity to undertake joint operations in the maritime domain with a friendly foreign power.

The exercise with the US CSG will focus on multiple areas including enhancing aspects of interoperability, nuances of international integrated maritime Search and Rescue operations and exchange of best practices in the maritime airpower domain.

High tempo operations during the exercise include advanced air defence exercises, cross deck helicopter operations and anti-submarine exercises. The participating forces will endeavour to hone their war-fighting skills and enhance their interoperability as an integrated force to promote peace, security and stability in the maritime domain.

Indian Navy and US Navy regularly undertake a host of bilateral and multilateral exercises which underscore the shared values as partner navies, in ensuring commitment to an open, inclusive and a rule-based international order.

CSG 5, is forward-deployed to the US 7th Fleet area of operations, the US Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet. The US Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific for more than 70 years, through 7th Fleet, helping allies and partners from 35 other maritime-nations by providing credible, ready forces to develop interoperability.

The two-day exercise demonstrating the ability to integrate and coordinate maritime operations will accomplish the mission of strengthening the bilateral relationship and cooperation between the defence forces of both the countries.

Also Read: USS Ronald Reagan in South China Sea as NATO, G7 talk tough on Beijing