By Raju Vernekar
New Delhi, June 23:
Indian Naval Ships (INS) “Kochi” and “Teg”, along with P-8I and MiG-29K aircraft, will participate in a Passage Exercise with USS Ronald Reagan during its transit through Indian Ocean Region, after deployment in South China Sea to ensure freedom of navigation, the defence ministry said.
The two-day exercise will begin on Wednesday, which reflects the growing operational cooperation between the two navies. The US carrier strike group is expected to field F-18 fighters and E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, adding that the exercise will be carried out south of Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), defence ministry added.
According to the ministry, the warships, along with aircraft from Indian Navy and Indian Air Force, will be engaged in joint multi-domain operations with the carrier strike group comprising Nimitz class aircraft carrier “Ronald Reagan”, the Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer “USS Halsey” and Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser “USS Shiloh”.
A carrier strike group is a mega naval fleet comprising an aircraft carrier, accompanied by a large number of destroyers, frigates and other ships. High tempo operations during the two-day exercise will include advanced air defence exercises, cross deck helicopter operations and anti-submarine exercises, said officials of Indian Navy.
The Indian air force said that the assets to be part of the exercise would include Jaguars and Su-30 MKI fighters, AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) and air-to-air refueller aircraft.
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.