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Eyeing China, India-UK begin tri-services exercise

By Ajai Shukla
October 24, 2021 11:51 IST
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The Chinese navy's growing aggression in the Western Pacific is bringing together a range of allies.
Ajai Shukla reports. 

IMAGE: The UK strike group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth. Photograph: PTI Photo

India's military will, for the first time, be operating with a fifth-generation fighter -- the British royal navy's F-35B Lightning II -- as the army, the navy and the air force participate in the India-United Kingdom joint Exercise Konkan Shakti in the Arabian Sea that began on October 21.

The Chinese navy's growing aggression in the Western Pacific is bringing together a range of allies.

In September, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced an alliance called AUKUS.

Last week, the Indian Navy participated in the four-nation Exercise Malabar.

And now, from Sunday, October 24, till Wednesday, October 27, a British carrier strike group centred on the aircraft carrier Her Majesty's Ship Queen Elizabeth is participating in the tri-service Exercise Konkan Shakti on its way home after a long deployment in the South China Sea.

 

Both sides are fielding the cream of their militaries.

The royal navy will fly F-35B sorties from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Participating from the Indian Navy's side will be its MiG-29K/KUB fighters, the shipborne Sea King 42B, Kamov-31 and Chetak helicopters; and Dornier-228 and P-8I maritime patrol aircraft.

The Indian Air Force will participate with Jaguar and Sukhoi-30MKI maritime strike fighters, Phalcon airborne warning and control systems, airborne early warning and control aircraft and in-flight refuelling tankers.

The royal navy will also be fielding its Type 45 Daring-class destroyer, HMS Defender, which is amongst the most advanced air-defence ships in the world; its Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond; Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria; and a Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Evertsen.

The Indian Navy will be represented by three indigenous stealth destroyers: INS Kolkata, INS Kochi, INS Chennai; two stealth frigates: INS Talwar, INS Teg; a submarine; and the fleet tanker, INS Aditya.

IMAGE: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo performs on board the HMS Defender, a type 45 air-defence destroyer ship, which was berthed in the Mumbai International Cruise Terminal during the British royal navy and the Indian Navy meet, October 22, 2021. Photograph: PTI Photo

The maritime component of the exercise, to be conducted off the west coast of India, is scheduled to be held in two phases: The harbour phase in Mumbai from October 21-23. The sea phase will be conducted from Sunday onwards.

Meanwhile, the land phase of Exercise Konkan Shakti is being conducted between the Indian and British armies at Chaubatia, in Uttarakhand, from October 21-27.

The British army is being represented by officers and troops of the 1st Battalion of the Fusilier Regiment and the Indian Army is represented by troops from 1/11 Gorkha Rifles.

The joint company level exercise depicts a setting in which a coalition force is conducting humanitarian aid and disaster relief in an opposed environment.

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Ajai Shukla
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