Indian Security Forces: Joint Exercises

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India, France to hold naval drills​

India and France will cement their defence cooperation in April when the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier strike force will conduct exercises with INS Vikramaditya in two phases in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, according to people familiar with the matter.

The dates of the exercises are being scheduled between the two navies, the people added.

The nuclear-powered French carrier force, comprising two frigates and one support ship, has for several months been on mission “Clemenceau 21”, which deals with fighting terrorism in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea/ Persian Gulf.

According to Indian Navy officers aware of the developments, the Western Fleet with its newly appointed commander Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar will conduct advanced exercises with the French carrier task force. While Charles de Gaulle is a 42,500 tonne aircraft carrier with Rafale M fighters on board, INS Vikramaditya is a conventionally powered aircraft carrier with displacement of 44,500 tonne and has MiG-29K aircraft on board.

April will also see renewed engagement with France with foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visiting India to deliver a lecture at a think-tank and engage in a political dialogue. Both India and France have convergence over freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific, with Paris appointing a special envoy for the region.

To add to this will be the arrival of seven Rafale jets from France between April 19 and 23, after which the first squadron of the French omni-role fighter will be completed at the Ambala airbase. The remaining 18 fighters will be deployed at Hashimara in the eastern sector to cover the strategic Siliguri corridor.

India and France have strengthened their bilateral relationship with convergence in the UN Security Council and building the Indian Air Force’s capacity through the purchase of medium transport aircraft and multi-role transport tankers.

The two countries have also joined hands in development of air independent propulsion for conventional submarines for future Indian submersible ships.
 
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IAF to take part in Sri Lanka Air Force anniversary celebrations​

SLAF and IAF to take part in air show​



The Indian Air Force(IAF) is set to participate in the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lankan Air Force(SLAF) with Suryakirans, Sarang and LCA Tejas to participate in an air show at Galle Face, Colombo, scheduled from March 3-5.
Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force had invited the IAF team to take part in the event. IAF and SLAF have seen active exchanges and interactions for a number of years in diverse fields like training, operational exchanges and through professional military education courses.
The IAF Suryakiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) had earlier toured Sri Lanka in 2001 for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the SLAF.



(Photograph:AFP)





IAF's Tejas trainer on display​



As the IAF aircraft take to the skies of Colombo to mark the event, they will script another significant chapter in the traditionally strong IAF-SLAF ties.
A total of 23 aircraft of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy will participate in the grand event. The detachment for the Aerobatic Display arrived in Colombo on February 27 with the support of C17 Globe Master and C130J transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force(IAF).
Tejas trainer on display for the first time would also afford the opportunity of independent sorties for the Sri Lanka Air Force pilots accompanied with the Indian pilots.



(Photograph:AFP)






IAF's Sarang on display​



People watch as Indian Air Force's Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) aerobatic team 'Sarang' performs during a rehearsal ahead of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lankan Air Force in Colombo.



(Photograph:AFP)










Dornier training sorties​



During the deployment, the officers from Sri Lanka Air Force and Sri Lanka Navy will also have first-hand experience onboard the Indian Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft Dornier.
Sri Lanka Air Force pilots and Sri Lanka Navy observers will fly along with the Indian crew. It is in continuation of the half yearly Dornier training sorties being facilitated for the SLAF and the Sri Lankan Navy.



(Photograph:AFP)






IAF performs in Colombo​



Indian Air Force aircraft perform during a rehearsal ahead of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lankan Air Force in Colombo.



(Photograph:AFP)






Sri Lanka is India's ‘Priority One’ partner​



The participation of IAF and Indian Navy aircraft and personnel in the 70th anniversary celebration of SLAF is indicative of the growing cooperation between the armed forces of the two nations.
Sri Lanka is a ‘Priority One’ partner for India in the sphere of defence, according to the IAF.
National Security Adviser(NSA) Mr Ajit Doval during his visit to Sri Lanka for the trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation talks among India, Sri Lanka and Maldives hosted by Sri Lanka in November 2020 had assured India’s full cooperation in the field of defence and security.



(Photograph:AFP)




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SALF to decorate fighter squadron​



An Indian Air Force aircraft performs during a rehearsal ahead of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lankan Air Force in Colombo.
The Sri Lanka Air Force is celebrating its 70th anniversary today and will be presenting the president’s colours to the No-5 fighter squadron and No. 6 helicopter squadron.



(Photograph:AFP)






Advanced Light Helicopter aerobatic team 'Sarang' on display​



Indian Air Force's Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) aerobatic team 'Sarang' is silhouetted against the Sun as it performs during a rehearsal ahead of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lankan Air Force in Colombo.
 

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A Proactive Indian Navy: Upcoming Naval Exercises​

The Indian Navy is preparing for a busy month ahead with exercises planned with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), France, and the Quad countries. According to media reports, the UAE is set to join India and France for a trilateral naval exercise in the strategically vital Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in late April. The exercise under the Varuna banner is to be held on April 25-27. This is the first time that the UAE will be joining India and France for such an exercise. The French Carrier Strike Group led by aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and the Indian Kolkata-class destroyer will be part of this exercise.

Earlier, India also sent a warship to Abu Dhabi to take part in two naval defense exhibitions held on February 20-25, another sign of the breadth of military-to-military engagement between India and the UAE. The Indian Navy ship Pralaya participated in the naval defense exhibition, NAVDEX 21, and the international defense exhibition, IDEX 21. INS Pralaya, built by Goa Shipyard, is a Prabal-class missile vessel fitted with a range of weapons and sensors and is considered a versatile platform meant to undertake a number of surface warfare missions. Indian Navy ships also do routine port calls in the UAE, the latest being that of INS Mysore in February 2021, highlighting the closer maritime cooperation between the two sides.

India and the UAE started a new bilateral naval exercise in March 2018. “Gulf Star 1” was held off the coast of Abu Dhabi from March 17 to 22, 2018, and saw the participation of two major Indian Navy ships, INS Gomati (a guided missile frigate) and INS Kolkata (a guided missile destroyer). The exercise was a follow up to and a further sign of strengthening defense cooperation between India and the UAE. During the exercise, the ships carried out force protection measures drills, maritime interdiction operations, and cross-deck landing exercises during the sea phase of the exercise. In December last year, in a first, the Indian Chief of Army Staff General M.M. Naravane visited the UAE, reflecting yet again the growing facet of military and security collaboration between New Delhi and Abu Dhabi.

France is likely to join another bilateral exercise in the Indo-Pacific, this time with Australia, too. Since the Galwan clash, India has shown an eagerness to expand its security and strategic partnerships with a number of states. France has been a key strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific. Although relatively new, India-Australia bilateral strategic engagement has gained significant momentum in the last few years. The naval exercise, AUSINDEX, has been maturing and now France is keen to join the series. Officials who spoke to media commented that “discussions are under way on how to take it forward.”

Diplomat Brief​

There is also another trilateral – India-Australia-Indonesia – under discussion. More trilaterals and minilaterals are likely to shape up in the coming years with much of the Indo-Pacific broiled in tensions with China due to Beijing’s aggressive behavior across the region and beyond. These exercises also indicate India’s own growing comfort and confidence as well as its increasing preference for naval and other military engagements that are aimed at facilitating and strengthening interoperability, and gaining operational experience in different maritime spaces and with multiple partners. India, as with other countries, stands to gain from these energized engagements.


The second major exercise involving the four Quad countries and France, a Quad-Plus naval exercise, is scheduled for April although the dates are still being worked out. France’s role and presence in the Indo-Pacific is unambiguous and the planned Quad-Plus naval exercise is a reiteration of the Quad’s commitment to ensure a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, with a firm commitment to freedom of navigation. The Quad-Plus exercise will also be an opportunity to showcase the enormous naval strength that the five countries can bring to bear in the Indo-Pacific. According to reports, the exercise in the Bay of Bengal may take place around April 4-7 with missile-guided destroyers, frigates, submarines, and surveillance aircraft engaging in complex maneuvers under the La Perouse banner. India’s lone aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, will not be part of this exercise as it has gone into maintenance after an extended deployment during the Galwan crisis with China. It is reported that Indian destroyers, P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, and a submarine will participate in the Quad-plus naval drills. The naval drills will engage in formation sailing, live firing, communications, search, rescue, damage control, and personnel transfers.

While details are still sketchy, the Quad-Plus naval engagement can be the beginning of a series of such engagements between the Quad countries and a number of European countries who have lately shown quite some interest in the Indo-Pacific. France became the first country to post a liaison officer at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Center for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), which is one of the critical steps in strengthening maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean region. With more European countries releasing Indo-Pacific strategies, including France, Germany, and the Netherlands, it is clear that European countries also now see a clear interest in maintaining a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific.
 

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FRENCH NAVAL SHIPS IN KOCHI​

French Naval Ships Tonnerre (Amphibious Assault Ship) and Surcouf (Frigate Class Ship) are on a two day good will visit to Kochi. The ships arrived at Cochin Port Trust on 30 Mar 21 and were received by Senior Naval Authorities in the background of fanfare by the naval band.


The French delegation comprising Mr Emmanuel Lenain, French Ambassador in India at New Delhi, Rear Admiral Jacques Fayard, French Joint Forces Commander in the Indian Ocean (ALINDIEN) and Mrs Lise Talbot Barre, Consul General of France in Puducherry were also present, as part of the visit.

The French delegation and the Commanding Officers of the French Naval ships called on Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command, V Adm AK Chawla on 30 Mar 21. The ships will be departing Kochi on 01 Apr 21.

Interactions between India and France have evolved into a strong partnership especially in the domain of maritime security. The regular conduct of bilateral exercises, goodwill visits by ships and high level delegation visits involving both the navies are indicative of growth in mutual cooperation and jointmanship.








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