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2 Aircraft carriers, over 35 fighter jets: Navy’s mega drill in Arabian sea


Mangalore Today News Network / NDTV

New Delhi, June 10, 2023: In one of the biggest demonstrations of its combat prowess in recent years, the Indian Navy has carried out a mega operation in the Arabian sea that involved two aircraft carriers, multiple warships, submarines and over 35 frontline planes amid China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean region.

 

Navy


The Navy’s aircraft carriers -- INS Vikramaditya and newly inducted INS Vikrant -- were the centrepieces of the exercise as they served as floating airfields for a wide array of aircraft, including MiG-29K and helicopters such as MH60R, Kamov and Advanced Light helicopters, officials said on Saturday.

The twin carrier CBG (carrier battle group) operations were held recently, they said without divulging the specific date of the exercise.

The Indian Navy said the "seamless operational" integration of the two aircraft carriers as well as the fleet ships and submarines is a powerful testament to the "pivotal role" of sea-based air power and India’s role as the preferred security partner in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

A carrier battle group or carrier strike group is a mega naval fleet comprising an aircraft carrier, accompanied by a large number of destroyers, frigates and other ships.

"The Indian Navy has undertaken the twin-carrier CBG operations with more than 35 aircraft in Arabian Sea, demonstrating its formidable capability in ensuring sustained air operations across the vast maritime expanse and underscoring our commitment to safeguarding India’s national interests," Indian Navy Spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.

He said the exercise marked a "significant milestone" in the Indian Navy’s pursuit of enhancing maritime security and "power-projection" in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

He said the exercise involved a seamless integration of two aircraft carriers along with a diverse fleet of ships, submarines and aircraft, showcasing India’s technological expertise in the maritime domain.

"This demonstration of naval prowess underscores India’s commitment to safeguarding its national interests, maintaining regional stability, and fostering cooperative partnerships in the maritime domain," Commander Madhwal said.

It is the first mega exercise involving the two aircraft carriers after induction of the indigenously-built INS Vikrant in September.

The officials said almost all air assets of the Navy operated from the two aircraft carriers and they operated as mobile bases.

The exercise demonstrated that INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya can be positioned anywhere, allowing for increased mission flexibility, timely response to emerging threats and sustained air operations to safeguard national interests across the globe, they said.

"In addition, they provide our friends with an assurance that the Indian Navy is capable and ready to support our ’collective’ security needs in the region," said Commander Madhwal.

"The successful demonstration of two-carrier battle group operations serves as a powerful testament to the pivotal role of sea-based air power in maintaining maritime superiority," he said.

"As India continues to strengthen its security apparatus, the significance of aircraft carriers will remain paramount in shaping the nation’s defence strategy and promoting regional stability," he said.

Last month, the MiG-29K fighter aircraft undertook night landing on the INS Vikrant.

The Navy then had said the aircraft carrier would be able to play a role in ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

In September last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned the aircraft carrier that made the country part of an elite group of nations capable of manufacturing aircraft carriers in the above 40,000 tonnes category.

Built at a cost of around ₹ 23,000 crore, INS Vikrant has a sophisticated air defence network and anti-ship missile systems. It has the capacity to hold 30 fighter jets and helicopters.

At the commissioning ceremony of the vessel, Modi called it a "floating city" and that it is a reflection of India becoming self-reliant in defence.


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