India, UK Conduct Mega Wargame in Bay of Bengal

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The Indian Navy and the UK’s largest warship HMS Queen Elizabeth and its strike task group carried out a mega wargame featuring a range of complex drills in the Bay of Bengal, signalling a resolve to deepen military cooperation in critical sea lanes. The Indian Navy said the military exercise on July 21 and 22 was designed to hone the ability of the two navies to operate together in the maritime domain. The UK’s aircraft carrier was deployed in the Indian Ocean region as part of its 40-nation tour aimed at demonstrating the country’s commitment to an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

“The maiden exercise between Indian Navy and the Royal Navy’s latest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, included the participation of carrier strike group-21 comprising type 23 frigates and an Astute-class submarine in addition to the other surface combatants,” the Indian Navy said. The Indian Navy was represented by ships Satpura, Ranvir, Jyoti, Kavaratti, Kulish and a submarine.

A fleet of anti-submarine and long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft P-8I was also deployed for the exercise. A carrier battle group or carrier strike group is a mega naval fleet comprising an aircraft carrier, accompanied by a large number of destroyers, frigates and other ships.

“With the presence of the CSG-21 in the Indian Ocean, the ongoing exercise has afforded excellent opportunity to engage over the entire spectrum of maritime operations including anti-submarine warfare, anti-air and anti-surface warfare,” Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.

The exercise also witnessed the maiden participation of the F-35 B stealth fighter jets which operated from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

“The inter-operability achieved by the two sides over the years has ensured a quantum jump in the complexity and scale of professional exchanges which is being further enhanced by the presence of the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group in the Indian Ocean,” Madhwal said.

The British High Commission in India said the UK’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2021, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth has met up with the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal for three days of complex maritime interactions.

It said both the UK and India are in the midst of a “carrier renaissance”, with the CSG spearheading the UK’s joint expeditionary capability. “The joint endeavour provides tangible security to our friends and a credible deterrence to those who seek to undermine global security. An Indian warship will also exercise with the Royal Navy off the coast of the UK in August,” it said.

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