India, Australia Begin Joint Exercises
India and Australia began their first bilateral maritime exercise on Friday, September 11. Dubbed AUSINDEX-15 and jointly inaugurated by Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead, Head of Navy Capability for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), and Rear Admiral Ajendra Bahadur Singh, Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy, on board India’s INS Shivalik, the exercise is being conducted off the east coast of India until September 15.
In addition to the INS Shivalik, which is a stealth frigate, India has deployed the INS Ranvijay, a guided missile destroyer, and the INS Shakti, a fleet tanker. Australia is represented by one Royal Australian Air Force P3C Orion surveillance aircraft, RAN fleet tankers, an Anzac-Class frigate and a Collins-Class submarine. A second Royal Australian Air Force P3C Orion and an Indian Navy P8I maritime patrol aircraft will operate from Chennai, which is off the Bay of Bengal, during the exercise. The AUSINDEX-15 will consist mainly of anti-submarine and coordinated anti-submarine drills, and the goal is to build ties between the two nations.
India will also participate in trilateral maritime exercises with the U.S. and Japan in the Indian Ocean next month. India’s participation in joint maritime exercises appears to be motivated by China’s increasing aggressiveness in the region.
In July, two Chinese submarines were spotted near Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and the Chinese have also established 16 offshore platforms in the East China Sea near disputed maritime territories. China has responded to its neighbor’s criticisms by stating that it has the right to protect its interests in these disputed regions.
The AUSINDEX will be a biennial event.