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Indian Navy carries out mega drill with two aircraft carriers, submarines, over 35 combat aircraft


Indian Navy has carried out the mega drill in the Arabian Sea involving two aircraft carriers, multiple frontline warships, submarines and over 35 combat planes. (Photo: (PIB)

NEW DELHI (PTI): In one of the biggest demonstrations of its combat prowess in recent years, the Indian Navy has carried out a mega operation in the Arabian Sea that involved two aircraft carriers, multiple frontline warships, submarines and over 35 combat planes amid China's increasing presence in the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Navy said the "seamless" operational integration of the two aircraft carriers – INS Vikramaditya and newly-inducted INS Vikrant, as well as the accompanying fleet of ships and submarines, is a "powerful testament" to the capabilities of its sea-based air power and India's role as the preferred security partner in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

The twin carrier CBG (carrier battle group) drills were held recently, officials said without divulging the specific date of the exercise.

The Navy said the demonstration of the naval prowess underscored India's commitment to safeguarding its national interests, maintaining regional stability, and fostering cooperative partnerships in the maritime domain, in comments also seen as an indirect message to China.

The two aircraft carriers were the centre-pieces of the exercise as they served as floating airfields for operations of a wide array of aircraft, including MiG-29K and choppers such as MH60 Romeo, Kamov and Advanced Light helicopters, officials said.

"The Indian Navy has undertaken the twin-carrier CBG operations with more than 35 aircraft in the Arabian Sea, demonstrating its formidable capability in ensuring sustained air operations across the vast maritime expanse and underscoring our commitment to safeguarding India's national interests," Indian Navy Spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.

A carrier battle group or carrier strike group is a mega naval fleet comprising an aircraft carrier, accompanied by a large number of destroyers, frigates and other ships.

Commander Madhwal said the exercise marked a "significant milestone" in the Indian Navy's pursuit of enhancing maritime security and "power projection" in the Indian Ocean, and beyond.

"The successful demonstration of two-carrier battle group operations serves as a powerful testament to the pivotal role of sea-based air power in maintaining maritime superiority," the Navy said in a statement.

"As India continues to strengthen its security apparatus, the significance of aircraft carriers will remain paramount in shaping the nation's defence strategy and promoting regional stability," the Navy added.

It was the first mega exercise involving the two aircraft carriers after the induction of indigenously-built INS Vikrant in September last year.

Officials said almost all air assets of the Navy's Western Fleet operated from INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant and that the two aircraft carriers acted as mobile bases.

"These mobile bases can be positioned anywhere, allowing for increased mission flexibility, timely response to emerging threats and sustained air operations to safeguard our national interests across the globe," the Navy said.

"In addition, they provide our friends with an assurance that the Indian Navy is capable and ready to support our 'collective' security needs in the region," it said.

In the last few years, the Indian Navy has significantly enhanced its overall presence in the Indian Ocean region against the backdrop of China's increasing forays into the region.

The Indian Ocean is considered the backyard of the Indian Navy and is critical for India's strategic interests.

Last month, the MiG-29K fighter aircraft undertook a night landing on the indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

The Navy then said the aircraft carrier would be able to play a role in ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

In September last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned the aircraft carrier that made the country part of an elite group of nations capable of manufacturing aircraft carriers above the 40,000 tonnes category.

Built at a cost of around Rs 23,000 crore, INS Vikrant has a sophisticated air defence network and anti-ship missile systems. It has the capacity to hold 30 fighter jets and helicopters.

At the commissioning ceremony of the vessel, PM Modi called it a "floating city" and that it is a reflection of India becoming self-reliant in defence.

INS Vikramaditya is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier purchased by India from Russia in 2013 under a US$ 2.3 billion deal and it was renamed in honour of Vikramaditya, the legendary emperor.

The 44,500-tonne warship is about 284 metres long and its height is around 60 metres which is like a 20-storey building from keel to the highest point.

The ship has a total of 22 decks and it has the ability to carry over 30 aircraft comprising an assortment of MiG 29K jets, Kamov 31 and Kamov 28 helicopters.

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