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Armed forces carry out joint exercise off Gujarat coast

February 06, 2009 01:36 IST

With the November 26 terror strikes exposing the vulnerabilities of India's coastline, the country's armed forces are carrying out a week-long joint exercise off the Gujarat coast in which they would validate concepts to counter such threats in the future.
    
Defence Ministry sources told PTI on Thursdayday that the amphibious exercise would use the assets and personnel of the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guard, and practice manoeuvres and operations to prevent terrorist attacks of the Mumbai-kind.
    
"Considering that the Mumbai [Images] attacks took the sea route to reach their targets, we have included an operational
element in the exercise to fight the menace," sources said.
    
Christened TROPEX-09 (Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise), this effort would be one of the largest exercises involving amphibious warfare elements in the recent years.
    
Though such exercises are an annual affair, this year's exercise gained importance in content and magnitude in view of
the Mumbai attacks, sources said.
    
Nearly 15,000 personnel of the armed forces would be trained in fighting "conventional as well as asymmetric" warfare, involving non-state actors, sources said. Defence Ministry sources said the Army was being represented by infantry and mechanised forces troops and they would simulate an attack on a land-based target. These troops would be launched from a naval vessel off the coast.
    
The Navy was utilising its major surface platforms including Delhi-class destroyers, Talwar-class missile frigates and Kilo-class submarines during the exercise, sources said.
    
Its aircraft carrier did not join the exercise as it is currently undergoing a lifespan-enhancing refit and repair programme at Cochin Shipyard.
    
The Navy's aerial elements including Tupulovs, Il-38s maritime reconnaissance aircraft, Dornier medium range surveillance aircraft, Kamov and Seaking helicopters, along with the Coast Guard air elements were participating in the war game.
    
The Air Force chipped in with its only maritime squadron comprising Jaguar fighters based in Jamnagar in Gujarat, would fly sorties during the exercise to provide aerial support and cover to naval assets, sources said.
    
Gujarat was chosen for the exercise as the Mumbai attackers had sneaked into the megapolis by sailing on a Pakistani boat along the state's coast, sources said.




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