India-US Naval Exercises

India-US Naval Exercises

Amidst recent clashes with China, India boosted its ties with allies through military collaborations and naval exercises, adding to its recent success of similar joint ventures.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Drills
Navies of India and the US recently conducted a joint navy exercise near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indian ships carried the drill with the US Navy “carrier strike group” led by USS Nimitz, which passed through Malacca strait located to the southeast of A&N – the strait is of strategic importance to India and China. The naval exercise took place amidst the sailing of the US ships from the South China Sea to the Middle East.

Passex is short for Passing Exercise in Navy terms. It is done to check the “communication and coordination” between navies, required in case of a mission or war. A drill which was conducted on short notice, the India-US drill was an example of Passex.

Cautioning China
Several drills have occurred in the South China Sea amidst its recent implementation of the ‘Security Law’ in Hong Kong and its conflict with Taiwan.

The US Navy recently conducted drills in the South China Sea, with the aircraft carriers USS Reagan and USS Nimitz leading the drill. China criticized the move and increased its deployment of warships and aircraft in the region, with the move gaining disapproval from Vietnam and the Philippines.

The US also sailed its warship in the strait between Taiwan and China at the time when Chinese aircraft reportedly entered the Taiwanese border.

India’s Naval Exercises
India held several navy drills in the recent past and it conducts joint annual exercise with several nations.

  • June 2020: Indian Navy conducted a joint exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in the Malacca Strait in the Indian Ocean.
  • December 2019: India and Russia held a “tri-service exercise” of the Army, Airforce, and Navy, named ‘Indra 2019’.
  • November 2019: India held the “Za’ir-Al-Bahr” (Roar of the Sea) maritime exercise with Qatar in Doha.
  • September 2019: India and Thailand conducted the 28th “coordinated patrol” (CORPAT) exercise.
  • May 2019: The 8th CORPAT drill took place between India and Myanmar.
  • Malabar is the annual naval exercise with the US and Japan, with Australia and Singapore being past non-permanent participants. The addition of Australia to the drill is expected in 2020.
  • Varuna is an annual naval drill with France.
  • Milan includes annual naval exercises with multiple nations. 30 participant countries including Australia and Singapore were confirmed for the 2020 drill, which got postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • SIMBEX is an annual naval drill with Singapore.
  • SLINEX is a naval exercise with Sri Lanka. While the exercise occurred once in 2 years, it has been made an annual event since 2018.
  • The Indian colonial navy was titled as His Majesty’s Indian Navy. When India became a republic in 1950, the Royal Indian Navy as it had been named since 1934 was renamed to the Indian Navy.
  • शं नो वरुणः is the motto Indian Navy. The Sanskrit phrase means “May the Lord of Water be auspicious unto us”.
  • Navy Day in India is celebrated on 4th December every year to recognize the achievements and role of the Indian Navy to the country. 4 December was chosen as on that day in 1971, during Operation Trident, the Indian Navy sank four Pakistani vessels including PNS Khaibar.

Indigenously Built Nuclear Submarines To Strengthen Indian Navy

According to a report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, Indian Navy plans to indigenously build six nuclear attack submarines in partnership with the private sector along with the Arihant Class nuclear-powered submarines equipped with nuclear missiles.

Crux of the Matter
  • Eighteen (Conventional) and six SSN (nuclear-powered attack) submarines are planned.
  • The Indian Navy informed the Defence committee that only two new conventional submarines (INS Kalvari and the INS Khanderi) have been inducted in the last 15 years.
  • The existing strength is 15 conventional and 1 SSN which is available on lease from Russia.
  • The report states that the existing 13 conventional submarines are nearly 17 to 31 years old.
  • Currently, the Navy is operating Russian-origin Kilo Class, German-origin HDW class and the latest French Scorpene-class boats in the conventional domain.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence is a department related standing committee (DRSC) of selected members of parliament for the purpose of legislative oversight of the defence policies and decision making of the Ministry of Defence. It is one of the 24 DRSCs that have been mandated with the onerous task of ministry specific oversight. The committee consists of 31 members, 21 elected by Lok Sabha and not more than ten members of Rajya Sabha. The members are elected every year for a period of 1 year according to the principle of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote. A minister is not eligible to become a member of the committee. The committee currently is headed by MP Kalraj Mishra. More Info

USA Approves $1 Billion Navy Defence Deal for India

Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced that the USA has approved the sale of the anti-surface warfare and anti-air defence MK 45 5 inch/62 calibre (MOD 4) naval guns and $1.02 billion worth equipment to India.

Crux of the Matter
  • The MK 45 is manufactured by BAE Systems Land and Armaments in Louisville, Kentucky. 
  • The MK-45 is a naval artillery gun system which will build the capacity to conduct antisurface warfare and anti-air defence missions.
  • Only countries like Japan, South Korea and Turkey have the MK-45 system.
  • It is equipped with an automatic loader with a capacity of 20 rounds that can be automatically fired fully within a minute’s time.
  • The Indian government will buy thirteen MK 45 5 inch/62 caliber (MOD 4) naval guns, 3,500 D349 projectile ammunition along with other ammunition, spare parts, publications and technical data.

Indo-US Relations – The US has four “foundational” agreements which it signs with its defence partners as routine instruments that it uses to promote military cooperation with partner-nations. India-US relations can be put into three distinct phases – a 15-year period of “deep engagement” from 1948 to 1963; period of “diplomatic quiescence” for next 15 years; and, a third phase since 1990 during which the focus was on cooling down India-Pakistan tensions. To counter the competition by China, the USA wants to make India as one of the major defence partners for which bilateral partnerships are being made for trade and defence deals alongside the joint military exercises. More Info