TROPEX tested new defence acquisitions in a dense electronic environment

The Navy on Wednesday staged a network-centric exercise off the Southern coast and displayed cooperation the Indian Air Force in its annual TROPEX (Theatre-level Readiness and Operational Exercise). The display was witnessed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony.

Against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean, two broad but well-networked fleets provided a glimpse of the Forces' prowess and proficiency in operating their latest acquisitions in a dense electronic environment.

Navy spokesperson Commander P.V.S. Satish said the exercise would test new platforms, weapons sensors, communication systems and tactics in order to optimise the network combat power of the fleet, which included over 40 surface combatants of various classes, submarines and a large number of aircraft, including unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Defence Minister, along with the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma and other senior officers of the Eastern Command, witnessed the exercise over two phases — night and day — as the two Forces performed in tandem. The Air Force fielded fighter aircraft in Sukhois, Mirage and Jaguars directed by Airborne Warning and Control System. For the first time the exercise tested the air defence capability of the country. It is scheduled to go on for a few days.

Combat freefall

Besides experiencing the potential of INS Shivalik and INS Shakti, Mr. Antony watched the successful interception of a fast, low-flying surface-to-surface missile by a surface-to-air missile on a moonlit night as also an air power demonstration by aircraft carrier INS Viraat and a professional mid-sea execution of a combat freefall technique by Marine Commandoes on the flight deck.

In addition, the Navy showed the ability of upgraded Sea Harriers which included extended range through mid-air refuelling and beyond-visual-range missiles. Mr. Antony also witnessed the launch of BrahMos supersonic long-range anti-ship missile from a recently upgraded Ranvir class destroyer.

In his address to the personnel on INS Viraat, Mr. Antony indicated that the second aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov), currently being refurbished in Russia, would be delayed. He said it would join the Navy early next year. As per a reworked schedule, the carrier is to be handed over to India by 2012-end.

Stating that 26/11 had changed the security matrix, Mr. Antony said, the country acknowledged critical requirement of maritime security and the Navy's importance. Complimenting the Navy for its professionalism, he said : “...Wherever we go [foreign countries], the Indian Navy is the most sought-after service...numerous countries want more cooperation…”

The Minister noted that the Navy had been increasing its capability to meet the ever-increasing challenges and responsibilities and expressed confidence that the maritime security of the country was in safe hands. He returned to the Capital later on Wednesday.

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