Friday, February 17, 2012

TROPEX-2012 (Part-1)

Indian Navy Statement: Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony was given a glimpse of the expansive scope and scale of the Indian Navy's annual Theatre Level Readiness and Operational Exercise (TROPEX) over a two day visit to the Bay of Bengal with the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma and the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral AK Chopra.

In the backdrop, were two completely networked fleets, widely dispersed across seas in the Indian Ocean, operating in a dense electronic environment to match their professional and technical proficiency. New platforms, 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, submarines and a large number of aircraft including 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 as IAF aircraft such as AWACS, Sukhois, Mirages and Jaguars also participated.

'No Limits', the motto of INS Shivalik where the Defence Minister first landed, best described the scale of the Indian Naval operational exercise. The Defence Minister witnessed INS Shivalik execute, various evolutions including a 'surface gun shoot' and jackstay with INS Shakti in copy book fashion. Incidentally, it may be recalled that the Defence Minister had commissioned INS Shivalik on Apr 29, 2010 and Admiral Verma had commissioned INS Shakti on October 01, 2011. The integration of INS Shivalik and INS Shakti as fully operational components of the Eastern Fleet in such a short span of time reflected the efficiency and professionalism of Indian Navy's training and operational methodology.

INS Viraat, the Flag ship of the Western Fleet, demonstrated the power of a networked force as operational plots and pictures from remote sensors were transferred and collated in a flash to present a comprehensive picture of the Battlespace and effect optimal use of the weapons on board the various potent ships. The recently upgraded Sea Harriers proved their lethality with ranges extended by Air to Air refueling and BVR missiles. Su 30MKI aircraft, Mirages and Jaguars, being directed by an IAF AWACS, operating over sea for the first time tested the Air Defence capability of the INS Viraat even as the ships were operating in a Multi- threat scenario. During this battle the Defence Minister witnessed, first hand, the potency of the upgraded Sea Harriers particularly in the networked environment.

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 night with a full moon laid an idyllic setting for this demonstration of power and professionalism.

The Defence Minister witnessed a successful and impressive launch of the Brahmos, supersonic long range anti shipping missile, from a recently up-graded Ranvir class destroyer. This was particularly satisfying as the launch of the missile was an affirmation of our indigenous weapon capabilities.

The Defence Minister also witnessed a full scale air power demonstration from INS Viraat with Seakings, Sea Harriers and Chetaks participating. Whilst on board INS Viraat, Shri Antony was also shown the reputed professionalism of the MARCOS as they carried out a precision landing on the flight deck in the middle of the sea using Combat Free Fall technique.

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