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Indo-U.S. naval exercise begins today

By Our Staff Reporter

USS Fitzgerald, one of the two U.S. warships participating in the Indo-U.S. joint naval exercise, anchored off Kochi on Sunday. Photo: H. Vibhu

KOCHI OCT. 5. Roughly 1,500 American and Indian Navy men will be engaged in a three-day joint naval exercise beginning Monday morning in the Arabian Sea off Kochi.

Two highly-sophisticated and heavily-armed warships and a nuclear submarine from the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet sailed into the outer sea off Kochi this morning. They are supported by a

product tanker and maritime patrol aircraft. Together, the two frontline U.S. warships--USS Fitzgerald and USS Chosin--carry over 750 personnel.

The Indian Navy is deploying two guided missile frigates--INS Brahmaputra and INS Ganga--along with the submarine INS Shalki and several aircraft. A matching number of Indian Navy personnel will join the U.S. men in the massive friendly exercise at sea. The main thrust of the exercise will be anti-submarine warfare tactics and the U.S. Navy's nuclear submarine USS Pasadena will be the centre piece of the show. The 300-feet Los Angeles-class attack submarine is among the state-of-the art weaponry with the U.S. Navy.

The Indo-U.S. naval exercise, third in just a year, is an indication of the closer military cooperation between the two countries. This is the fifth in the `Malabar Exercise' series that began in 1992. However, the last two exercises took place in September last year and June this year, underscoring the growing importance the U.S. gives to military cooperation with India in the post-9/11.

At a joint press conference, captains of the four Indian and American warships said the exercise would greatly enhance mutual understanding of the two navies. Against the backdrop of global terrorism getting intensified, the exercise would also focus on VBSS (visit, board search and seizure operations), they said. However, they refused to go into operational details for obvious strategic reasons.

Captain Edward N. Boorda, commander of USS Chosin, said the exercise was a great opportunity for increasing regional cooperation. He agreed that in the past two years, post-9/11, the Indo-U.S. military cooperation had increased enormously.

Captain R. Gaikwad, commander of INS Brahmaputra, said with every new exercise in the Malabar Exercise series, there was an increase in the scale of the joint operation. The joint exercises enhanced inter-operability and helped in understanding each other's operating philosophy.

On a tour of USS Fitzgerald and USS Chosin anchored at the outer sea, presspersons were told of the amazing warfare capability, particularly anti-missile systems. Chosin, one of the most sophisticated guided missile cruisers in the world today, showcases the cutting edge of radar and missile technology. U.S. Navy officials told presspersons that its radar could detect an object as small as a baseball at a distance of 50 km even if it is moving faster than 20,000 miles per hour. The ship's two vertical launch systems can hold 120 missiles, including Tomahawk cruise missiles and SM-2 surface-to-air missilesUSS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, is claimed to be armed with the world's most sophisticated weaponry systems. It is equipped with the U.S. Navy's latest anti-surface warfare and it has the most advanced anti-submarine warfare system. The joint exercise will wind up on Wednesday evening.

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