Shri Parrikar was accompanied by the Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, the Chief Minister of Goa, Shri Laxmikant Parsekar, the Chief Naval Staff, Admiral RK Dhowan and Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command Vice Admiral AK Chopra.
The two completely networked fleets of the Indian Navy- the Eastern and the Western- were kept widely dispersed across seas in the Indian Ocean, operating in a dense electronic environment to match their professional and technical proficiency. All the operations were facilitated by a robust and seamless communication network, including satellite communications under the Navy’s overall thrust on Network Centric Operations, aligned with the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Digital India’. Shri Parrikar also released a postage stamp commemorating the indigenous Naval communication satellite Rukmani, which is a dedicated Naval satellite, taking the Navy to the step in achieving complete digitisation of communications. The Stamp Release which took place on board the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya was relayed live to naval units at sea, as well as to Maritime Operations Centres ashore. Rukmani has been pivotal in ensuring seamless connectivity between the triad of surface, sub-surface and air platforms of the Navy.
New weapons, sensors, communication systems and tactics were being tested and tried to optimize the net combat power of the fleets. Over forty surface combatants of various classes including the two aircraft carriers (Vikramaditya and Viraat), submarines including the INS Chakra, a large number of aircraft and UAVs are participating in the exercise. As would be the case in any operation of the twenty first century, the exercise had a jointmanship element of IAF with participation by aircraft such as Sukhois, Mirages and Jaguars.
During the embarkation, the dignitaries were provided an overview of the multi-dimensional capabilities of the Indian Navy. The Navy demonstrated multiple facets of operations during the period which encompassed a variety of weapon firings, MiG 29K and Sea Harrier operations from the two aircraft carriers, integration of the P8I aircraft with fleet, and operations by the Navy’s Marine Commandos.
Notably, after many years, the Navy has deployed two Carrier Task Forces during the exercise. The Defence Minister also witnessed a successful and impressive vertical launch of the Brahmos, supersonic long range anti- shipping cruise missile, from the recently commissioned stealth destroyer INS Kolkata, a major milestone in itself. This was particularly satisfying as the launch of the missile was an affirmation of our indigenous weapon capabilities.
In pursuit of the Navy’s thrust to inspire the young generation, 30 NCC cadets from 8 Karwar NU NCC embarked onboard INS Mumbai and witnessed the operations. Two of these cadets also got an opportunity to be transferred at sea to INS Vikramaditya by ‘Jackstay’ – an evolution wherein ships transfer men and material between them. Shri Parrikar hoped this practice will be continued with larger number of cadets being given exposure to the ways of our Forces so that they understand their valour and inspire them to join the Navy, Army and Air Force in large numbers.
Shri Parrikar’s embarkation provided the Navy an opportunity to re-emphasise the Indian Navy’s readiness, whilst showcasing the high levels of motivation and professionalism of the officers and men who man the Navy’s ships, submarines and aircraft. Whereas the quick integration of new ships was a reflection of the Indian Navy’s high standards of professionalism in operations and training, the sustenance of potency and combat efficiency of a couple of surface combatants over a few decades old, reflected the Indian Navy’s sound maintenance practices and technical prowess.
The transformation of the Indian Navy to a future- ready network- enabled force was epitomised in the operations room of INS Vikramaditya, the Flag ship of the Western Fleet. The power of a networked force was demonstrated as operational plots and pictures from remote sensors were transferred and collated, in a flash, to present a comprehensive picture of the battle- space and effect optimal use of the weapons on board the various potent ships.
A critical part of Anti- Missile Defence being Surface to Air Missiles (SAM), the Defence Minister witnessed the successful interception of a fast, low flying, Surface to Surface missile by a SAM. A clear dark night laid an ideal setting for this demonstration of precision targeting.
Shri Parrikar also witnessed a full scale air power demonstration from INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat with MiG 29 Ks, Sea Harriers, Seakings, UH3H, ALHs and Chetaks participating.
The recently acquired MiG 29Ks proved their mettle by showing the STOBAR operations including the bombing runs. Shri Parrikar was also shown the reputed professionalism of the MARCOS as they carried out a demonstration of insertion and extraction in the middle of the ocean by slithering. During this battle, the Defence Minister also witnessed, first hand, the potency of the upgraded Sea Harriers particularly in the networked environment.
In addition to operational activities, various in-house innovations and efforts towards increased indigenisation were also presented to the RM, which helped showcase the Navy’s efforts towards self-reliance.
TROPEX 2015 will continue over the next few days and the successful missile launches and interceptions, uninterrupted seamless operations in a networked condition with BVR interceptions herald the emergence of a capable and potent ‘future ready’ Indian Navy.
Sitanshu Kar/Capt DK Sharma/ Cdr Rahul Sinha