NEW YORK – The Indian Navy and Air Force deployed their arsenal of Russian and Western aircraft during joint exercises around the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Indian Ocean to build on “high-profile integration” between the two nations, according to the US -Indo-Pacific commands.
“Our nations have a common interest in a safe Indo-Pacific,” said Rear Admiral Will Pennington.
“Working together with like-minded nations to raise awareness and defend the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean will ensure stability in the region,” added Pennington.
The joint exercise took place on June 23 and 24, when the USS Ronald Reagan, stationed in Japan, was on its way to the North Arabian Sea in preparation for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. After that, the US Navy held a separate exercise in the region with Sri Lanka and Japan, PACOM said.
The India-US exercises, which reinforced “the converging maritime interests” of the US and India, followed the meeting between US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar at the Pentagon last month during India’s first cabinet-level visit to Washington after President Joe Biden took office, PACOM announced.
The Indian Ministry of Defense said on June 25, “The exercise was a key factor in building interoperability and strengthening defense coordination between the two nations, and witnessed high-speed naval operations at sea.”
“The exercise was another milestone in strengthening cooperation between the two countries and strengthening shared values as partner militaries, ensuring the freedom of the seas and advocating for an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and rules-based international order,” the said Ministry.
In line with the mood, PACOM said: “The integration of Indian armed forces strengthens the regional maritime security construct in order to maintain a rules-based maritime order in the Indian Ocean region.”
The Indian Ministry of Defense said the exercises included “intensive air control exercises, advanced air defense exercises, anti-submarine exercises, tactical maneuvers and helicopter missions above deck”.
PACOM added that aerial exercises such as combat training with different aircraft, recognition sequences and formation maneuvers were also part of the exercises.
The Department of Defense announced that the guided missile stealth destroyer INS Kochi, the guided missile frigate INS Teg, the sea air dominance fighter MiG 29K, the long-range sea patrol aircraft P8I and the helicopters Seaking 42B and Kamov AEW of the Navy, as well as Jaguars and Su 30 during the exercise MKI combat aircraft, airborne early warning and control aircraft and air-to-air refueling aircraft of the Luftwaffe were used.
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, known as CSG 5, which participated in the exercise, deployed the U.S. guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh and missile destroyer USS Halsey and aircraft from its Carrier Air Wing, according to PACOM.
The Department of Defense, which detailed the U.S. aircraft in the exercise, said they included F18 fighter jets, E2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne early warning and control aircraft, and Sikorsky MH60R Seahawk helicopters.
The US Naval Institute News reported on June 25 that the USS Ronald Reagan was in the North Arabian Sea to aid the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
This was the second naval exercise between the US and India this year as strategic cooperation between the two countries is flourishing.
The US Navy’s USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group conducted exercises with the Indian Navy and Air Force in the eastern Indian Ocean region in March. This was followed by Austin’s visit to India, the first cabinet-level trip to Biden’s government.