Armed forces of India and the United Kingdom have commenced the sea phase of the maiden bilateral tri-service exercise ‘Konkan Shakti 2021’ off the Konkan coast in the Arabian Sea. The exercise began after successfully completing an exhaustive harbour planning phase.
During the sea phase exercise, all participating units were divided into two opposing forces with an aim of achieving ‘sea control’ to land ground troops at a pre-designated site. Flag Officer Commanding of the Western Fleet led one of the two forces. This group comprised of Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond, INS Chennai and other warships of the Indian Navy. The other force operated under the UK Carrier Strike Group comprised aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and naval ships of the United Kingdom, Netherlands and India.
The two forces engaged in exercises, which included sea replenishment approaches, airstrike operations by MiG 29K and F35B fighter aircraft, war-at-sea scenarios, gun targeting on expendable air targets and cross control of helicopters like Sea King, Chetak and Wildcat. The simulated induction of troops was also undertaken and was followed by the setting up of a joint command operations centre.
The air operations included strikes on the combined formation by Indian maritime patrol aircraft Dornier, Indian Navy MiG 29K fighter jets, Royal Navy’s F35B aircraft and Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi-30 and Jaguar fighter aircraft. The operations included composite fly past information.
The high level of interoperability displayed on the first day of the exercise reflected the high standards of professionalism and preparedness of both navies. First Sea Lord Admiral and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Tony Radakin said that the Carrier Strike Group’s engagement with India showcases the deepening comprehensive strategic partnership.
Both Indian Navy and the Royal Navy are blue-water, multi-carrier navies, which places them in a very exclusive club, Admiral Radakin further said, adding that the growing interactions point towards a shared vision of the rules-based international system, faith in the values of open trade and primacy of the freedom of the high seas.