Continuing military engagement, India, Australia hold Navy to Navy talksNEW DELHI April 13, 2022 19:35 IST
Maritime patrol aircraft participate in coordinated maritime operations at Darwin
Continuing the high tempo of military engagements, India and Australia held the 14th Navy to Navy staff talks over three days, which concluded on Wednesday. At the same time, an Indian Navy P8I long range patrol aircraft is in Darwin, Australia participating in coordinated maritime operations with Royal Australian P8 aircraft in “Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and surface surveillance, to enhance maritime domain awareness”.
“Major issues discussed included maritime operations, information exchange and training. Both sides also acknowledged the growing cooperation between the two Navies amid the emerging challenges on the maritime front, and agreed to enhance collaboration and interoperability towards ensuring maritime security in Indian Ocean Region (IOR),” the Navy said in a statement.
The talks were co-chaired by Rear Adm Christopher Smith, Deputy Chief of the Australian Navy, and Rear Adm J. Singh, Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff, Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence. Cmde Stewart Dunne, Hydrographer to the Government of Australia, also attended the meeting.
In a series of high-level visits and engagements, Chiefs of the Australian Army and Navy visited India recently. It is to be followed later this month by visits of Australia’s Chief of the Defence Force and Defence Secretary.
For the coordinated maritime operations, the Indian Navy P-8I aircraft from the squadron INAS 312 ‘Albatross’ reached Darwin on April 11, where it will also engage with its counterparts from the 92 Wing of the Royal Australian Air Force. “P-8 aircraft from both the countries would be conducting coordinated operations in Anti-Submarine Warfare and surface surveillance, to enhance maritime domain awareness,” the Navy stated.
In recent times, increased interaction between the two maritime nations, through bilateral and multilateral exercises at sea, had enhanced interoperability and fostered bridges of friendship, the Navy said.
“The P-8 aircraft, with their demonstrated long reach, have operated jointly during Malabar and AUSINDEX series of exercises, and have a common understanding of operating procedures and information sharing,” it noted, adding that both India and Australia shared strategic interests, promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific and rules based order in the region.
In addition to information sharing, ASW has emerged as a major focus area among the Quad partners - India, Australia, Japan and the U.S. - both at the bilateral level between India and each of the countries as well as at the Malabar exercise. On information exchange, last November, the Government acknowledged in Parliament, “This includes information on military and naval assets of hostile/adversarial countries; assessment of maritime activities of mutual concern and activities related to transnational maritime based threats.”
Signing of agreement
Last week, the Australian envoy to India Barry O’Farrell said joint defence activities were experiencing a “near four-fold increase” since 2014. The two sides concluded a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, and last September, the two navies signed the ‘Terms of Reference’ for the conduct of the Navy to Navy talks under the framework of the ‘Joint Guidance for the India – Australia Navy to Navy Relationship’ document signed by the Navy Chiefs of the two countries in August. This is the first such document signed by the Indian Navy with any country.
The Australian Navy also participated in the Indian Navy’s largest multinational exercise Milan that concluded last month in Visakhapatnam.