The Indian military deployed arsenal of both Russian and Western-made aircraft during joint drills in the Indian Ocean centred around the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to ‘build on the high-calibre integration’ between the two nations, according to PACOM
“Our nations share a common interest in a secure Indo-Pacific,” Rear Admiral Will Pennington said.
“Working collectively with like-minded nations to provide full spectrum awareness and defence of the vast Indian Ocean expanse ensures stability in the region,” Pennington added.
The joint exercise took place on Wednesday and Thursday, while the USS Ronald Reagan, based in Japan, was en route to the North Arabian Sea in preparation for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Following that, the US Navy conducted a separate exercise in the region with Sri Lanka and Japan, according to PACOM.
The India-US exercises that “reinforced the converging maritime interests” the meeting between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar at the Pentagon last month during India’s first cabinet-level visit to Washington since President Joe Biden took office, according to the PACOM.
“The exercise has been another milestone in strengthening cooperation between the two countries and reinforcing the shared values as partner militaries, in ensuring freedom of seas and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
Echoing the sentiment, PACOM said, “Integration of Indian forces sharpen the regional maritime security construct to uphold a rules-based maritime order in the Indian Ocean Region.”
The Indian Defence Ministry said the exercises included “intense air dominance exercises, advanced air defence exercises, anti-submarine exercises, tactical manoeuvres and cross-deck helicopter operations”.
Aerial exercises such as dissimilar aircraft combat training (DACT), detect-to-engage sequence, and formation manoeuvering were also included in the exercises, according to PACOM.
The Navy’s guided-missile stealth destroyer INS Kochi, guided missile frigate INS Teg, maritime air dominance fighter MiG 29K, long-range maritime patrol aircraft P8I, and Seaking 42B and Kamov AEW helicopters, as well as the Air Force’s Jaguars and Su 30 MKI fighters, airborne early warning and control aircraft, and air-to-air refueller aircraft, were deployed, according to the Defence Ministry.
According to PACOM, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG 5) that participated in the exercise deployed the US guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh and guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey, as well as aircraft from its Carrier Air Wing.
The US aircraft participating in the exercise included F18 fighters, E2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne early warning and control aircraft, and Sikorsky MH60R Seahawk helicopters, according to the Defence Ministry.
According to the US Naval Institute News, the USS Ronald Reagan is in the North Arabian Sea to support the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
This was the second naval exercise between the United States and India this year, as strategic cooperation between the two countries grows.
In March, the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group conducted exercises in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region with the Indian Navy and Air Force. It came after Austin’s trip to India, the administration’s first cabinet-level trip.
The US Navy also held an exercise with Sri Lanka with the participation of Japan “focused on building interoperability and strengthening relationships”, PACOM said.
According to PACOM, the 27th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise included both at-sea and virtual elements.
According to PACOM, the exercise included the Sri Lanka Navy’s India-built SLNS Sayurala and US-built SLNS Gajabahu, as well as Japan’s JMSDF Asagiri-class destroyer JS Yuugiri and the US littoral combat ship USS Charleston and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft.