IAF fighters also got an opportunity to practice with the US Navy

The Indian and the US navies that conducted two-day PASSEX in the Bay of Bengal, concluded on Monday, offering the two sides an opportunity to further deepen their defence and military partnership.

During the exercise, the Indian Navy deployed its warship Shivalik and long-range maritime patrol aircraft P8I. On the other hand, the US Navy was represented by the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group.

“In a first enhancing jointmanship, Indian Air Force fighters were also included in the exercise affording IAF an opportunity to practice air interception, air defence with US Navy close to Indian Coast,” the Indian Navy said in a statement.

Further tweeting about warship Shivalik, the Indian Navy maintained: “Consolidating synergy & interoperability achieved during Malabar 2020 INS Shivalik with integral helicopter and Indian Navy's Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft P8I participated in a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with US Navy's USS Theodore Rosevelt Carrier Strike Group in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region, the Indian Navy said in an official statement.”

Speaking about the exercise, the US navy tweeted, “Sharing a common desire for a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific .The #TheodoreRoosevelt Carrier Strike Group conducted simultaneous operations with the @indiannavy and Air Force in the Indian Ocean March 28-29, 2021. #NavyPartnerships.” (sic)

The exercise comes a week after US defence secretary Lloyd Austin flew to India as part of his three-nation first overseas tour. His trip indicated US President Joe Biden's strong commitment towards relations with its close allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

A PASSEX was carried out between Indian and US navies in November last year, soon after the Malabar exercise, which paved way for this exercise which aims at consolidating the synergy and interoperability achieved during the Malabar exercise that took place in November last

Besides the Indian Navy, the navies of the US, Australia and Japan also took part in the Malabar naval exercise. The four countries are part of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition. The move irked China as it feels that the exercise is part of the plan to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Prior to this, India and Russia had also carried out a two-day passage exercise (PASSEX) in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in December 2020.

Such exercises are part of ground maritime cooperation between countries following China’s growing influence and increased incursions in the Indian Ocean Region.

The Indian Navy will also be part of a French naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal next month. Other participating nations will be Australia, Japan and the United States of America (USA), the other Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) member countries.

This will be India’s first entry into the France-led war game ‘La Perouse’. Until now, India has never been invited for the French naval exercise.