For the first time, Indian Naval warships and submarines will rub shoulders with US and French nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines in a series of manoeuvres over the next three months.
The quantum jump to war manoeuvres with state-of-art nuclear carriers and submarines would be heralded with holding of Malabar round of Indo-US exercises off the west coast by September end and with French Naval forces in the Gulf of Aden in November, highly-placed naval sources said here.
The Indian Navy would field its lone carrier INS Viraat conventional SSK class submarines and its Russian-acquired stealth frigates and destroyers in the exercises, which would see the US navy bringing in its frontline F-18 Hornets and F-15 naval fighters for the first time.
The sources said that US navy would also bring its upgraded P3C Orions long range maritime reconissance aircraft for the exercises to be held in the last week of September. The aim of the exercises is to weave interoperability among the frontline warships and weapon platforms of the US and Indian Navies”, the sources said.
The joint exercises with the French Navy are to be held in November end around the Horn of Africa, where French Naval warships including Nuclear powered carrier Charles De Gaulle and nuclear submarines from the French Indian ocean naval base of Djibouti would carry out advanced battle manoeuvres with Indian Naval warships in wargames codenamed Varuna IV.
In between, Indian warships for the second year in running, would conduct complex wargames with a powerful Russian naval flotilla in the Bay of Bengal in october.
The Russian battle group would comprise stealth frigates and Akula class nuclear submarines. Indian Navy has shown interest in acquiring these submarines on lease from Moscow. “Russians are bringing in some of their most powerful warships in exercises which are going to be of bigger magnitude”, sources said.
India, whose naval fleet has almost over 70 per cent of Russian weapons platforms, has held just one joint exercise with the Russian Navy last year. “The Russian wanted the exercises to be held every year and now it has been decided that these wargames codenamed Indra would be held in alternate years”, the sources said.