As the ongoing standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) sees no sign of an early resolution, India is busy bolstering its operational readiness by conducting “live” missile tests. This comes even when the country is preparing for the 24th edition of the Malabar naval exercise, which the Indian Navy said on Friday would be conducted in two phases starting 3 November.
The first phase of the Malabar drill will be held from 3-6 November off Visakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal to “showcase the high-levels of synergy and coordination between the friendly navies”, the Indian Navy said in a statement on Friday. This is the first time that all four Quad members—India, the United States, Japan and Australia—will participate together in a naval exercise.
Phase 2 of Malabar-2020 is scheduled to be conducted in the Arabian Sea from 17-20 November.
Meanwhile, in a coordinated exercise on Friday, a decommissioned warship stationed off the coast of Bay of Bengal was used as a target practice by both the Navy and the Air Force.
First, an anti-ship missile (AShM) fired by Indian Navy’s Guided Missile Corvette INS Kora hit its target at max range with precise accuracy in the Bay of Bengal. In a tweet on Friday, the Navy spokesperson said, “AShM fired by Indian Navy’s Guided Missile Corvette INS Kora hits the target at max range with precise accuracy in the Bay of Bengal. Target ship was severely damaged and in flames.”
On 23 October, the Navy shared a video showing an anti-ship missile (AShM) launched by its Missile Corvette INS Prabal with deadly accuracy at maximum range and sinking the target ship.
Second, an Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi-30 fighter flew from Halwara airbase on Friday to successfully launch DRDO’s BrahMos supersonic cruise missile to hit a ship in the Bay of Bengal. According to sources, the aircraft had taken off from Halwara and reached the Bay of Bengal after mid-air refuelling. This is the second such successful test of the missile, said sources.
The IAF Su-30 had taken off from the Halwara airbase in Punjab around 9 am and hit its target around 1.30 pm after mid-air refuelling, the sources said. The total distance travelled by the fighter jet during the sortie was over 3,500 km which required it to be refuelled multiple times by the Ilyushin-78 midair refuelling aircraft which had taken off from Agra.
Like the Navy, this was the second such successful exercise by the IAF in the recent past. In the earlier mission, it had taken off from Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal and hit targets in the Arabian Sea near Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands territory.
As for the Malabar exercise, the Navy, in its statement on Friday, explained how it would be conducted in two phases starting 3 November. “The exercise, being conducted as a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ exercise in view of Covid-19 pandemic, will showcase the high-levels of synergy and coordination between the friendly navies, which is based on their shared values and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order,” the statement said.
The Indian Navy participation in Phase 1 will be led by Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet. Indian Navy units participating in the exercise include destroyer Ranvijay, frigate Shivalik, Offshore Patrol Vessel Sukanya, Fleet Support Ship Shakti and submarine Sindhuraj. In addition, Advanced Jet Trainer Hawk, long-range maritime patrol aircraft P-8I, Dornier maritime patrol aircraft, and helicopters will also be participating in the exercise.
The Malabar series commenced in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between Indian Navy and the US navy. Japan joined it in 2015. And Australia is the latest country to join the exercise this year.
WITH AGENCY INPUTS