The fortnight long bilateral maritime exercise with navies of India and Australia participating in ‘AUSINDEX’ concluded last weekend. According to the Indian Navy’s official spokesperson, personnel from the Eastern Fleet bid farewell to Her Majesty’s Australian Ships Canberra, Newcastle, Paramatta and Success with a promise to meet again.
The exercise had not only highlighted India’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) but was aimed “to strengthen and enhance mutual cooperation and interoperability between the Indian Navy and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) providing opportunities for interaction and exchange of professional views between the personnel of the two navies”.
The 3rd edition had the highest number of units — four frontline ships with integral helicopters, one submarine and a variety of aircraft including P8I and P8A long-range Maritime Reconnaissance Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft from both navies. There were a series of advanced warfare drills in all three dimensions comprising anti-submarine warfare exercises, air defense exercises, anti-surface warfare exercises including live-fire drills, replenishment at sea, and cross deck flying. And the security interests of both countries in the Indian Ocean went to the next level of bilateral exercise. The complexity in the exercises has increased over a period of time and the 3rd edition focused on ASW and would involve all three dimensions.
Also, for the first time, 55 American and 20 New Zealand military personnel embarked onboard the RAN ships and witnessed the exercises during AUSINDEX-19.
Both countries have extensive have deep maritime zones in the Indian Ocean and major maritime capabilities, and are working together to make sure that the Indian Ocean remains open and inclusive.
In September 2015 the navies of both countries had a joint drill, followed by the second edition being held in Australia off Fremantle in June 2017, and ships from the Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy participated with RAN ships and submarines.
The main aim of these joint exercises is for strengthening of bilateral and defence cooperation between India and Australia as underlined in the Framework for Security Cooperation (FSC) announced by the top leaders of sides in 2014.
Both sides have been getting closer in the defence relations since 2006 when both signed Memorandum of Defence Cooperation and 2009 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation. This was followed by the FSC when the cooperation became more focused.