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India, Australia begin five day naval exercise

Indian Navy Task Group comprising IN Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt, under the Command of Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Fleet, Rear Admiral TarunSobti, VSM participates in the 4th edition of AUSINDEX. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI):  India and Australia have begun a five-day mega naval wargame with an aim to strengthen joint capabilities in support of a stable and secure Indo-Pacific region.

The AUSINDEX exercise will include complex surface, sub-surface and air operations between ships, submarines, helicopters and long-range maritime patrol aircraft of the two navies, Indian Navy Spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.

The wargame which began on Monday is taking place in the North Australian exercise area.

"Indian Navy Task Group comprising ships Shivalik and Kadmatt, under the Command of Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Fleet, Rear Admiral Tarun Sobti is participating in the 4th edition of the exercise from Sep 6-10," the official said.

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has deployed an Anzac Class frigate, HMAS Warramunga.

The exercise is taking place a week after the navies of India, the US, Australia and Japan carried out the Malabar exercise off the coast of Guam in the Western Pacific.

Australia's department of defence said the ships will be joined by an Australian submarine, a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, RAAF tactical fighter jets as well as embarked helicopters from both navies.

It said the exercise provides the two navies with an opportunity to "strengthen joint defence capabilities in support of a stable and secure Indo-Pacific region."

"Australia and India are comprehensive strategic partners. We share a commitment to increasing the regularity and complexity of our military training so we can be confident in our ability to work effectively to respond to the maritime security needs in our region," Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Mark Hammond said.

"Each time our nations come together we develop further maritime interoperability by exercising more involved warfare serials demonstrating our strong commitment to an open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region," he said.

Commenced in 2015, the AUSINDEX has grown in complexity over the years and the third edition of the exercise, held in 2019 in the Bay of Bengal, included anti-submarine drills for the first time.

"The exercise will provide an opportunity for both Navies to further bolster inter-operability, gain from best practices and develop a common understanding of procedures for maritime security operations," Commander Madhwal said.

The defence and security ties between India and Australia have been on an upswing in the last few years.

In June last, India and Australia elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and signed a landmark deal for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support during an online summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows militaries of the two countries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.

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