India, Russia kick off military exercise

India, Russia kick off military exercise

The first tri-service military exercise involving the army, air force and navy of India and Russia commenced from Thursday, signalling the depth of military closeness between the two allies.

Naval frigate INS Satpura and corvette INS Kadmatt have reached the Vladivostok Port after touching base at Sasebo in Japan last week.

Following the induction ceremony and preparatory meetings between the field commanders, the operational part of the 10-day war game will begin on Friday. The Indian task force is headed by Maj Gen N D Prasad whereas the two warships are under the command of Rear Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta.

Nearly 350 Indian Army soldiers from the Maratha Light Infantry and 80 airmen were flown to Vladivostok by the Indian Air Force's IL-76 aircraft.

With India and Russia flying multiple common aircraft, IAF pilots would be flying the Russian Sukhoi and MiG series aircraft, sources told DH.

Similarly, Indian Army soldiers will operate Russian tanks in the fields as they are familiar with similar tanks - T-72 and T-90 — that are being used by India. Two IAF IL-76 would provide the transport service.

The Indra series of exercises were earlier held between individual services like the two armies or two navies. For the first time, it is being held as a tri-service service exercise, showcasing the deep-rooted friendship between New Delhi and Moscow.

The mock drill will be conducted at the 249 Combined Army Range at Sergeevisky and in the Sea of Japan near Vladivostok. The Russian Federation Armed Forces will be represented by approximately 1,000 troops of the 5th Army, Marines and Ships of Pacific Fleet and aircraft from Eastern Military District.

The scope of the exercise includes the establishment of joint command and control structures between the Indian and Russian forces and elimination of terrorist threat in a multinational environment under a UN mandate.

"The exercise provides an opportunity to the armed forces of both countries to train in counter-terrorism operations in a multinational scenario in a joint tri-service environment. It will be a landmark event in the history of Indo-Russian defence co-operation," said Lt Gen Satish Dua, chief of integrated defence staff to the chairman chiefs of staff committee.

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