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India, Australia to conduct 2-day naval exercise in Indian Ocean from today

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NEW DELHI (PTI):  Navies of India and Australia will carry out a two-day mega exercise in the Indian Ocean Region beginning today that will involve a range of complex naval manoeuvres, anti-aircraft drills and helicopter operations, officials said.

The exercise comes in the midst of India's tense border row with China and in the backdrop of growing activities by the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean Region.

"The exercise is aimed at enhancing interoperability, improving understanding and imbibing best practices from each other. It would involve advanced surface and anti-air exercises including weapon firings, seamanship exercises, naval manoeuvres and cross deck flying operations," a Navy spokesperson said.

It will be the fourth major military drill by the Indian Navy since June. It has already carried out similar exercises with the navies of the US, Japan and Russia.

HMAS Hobart, the lead ship of the Hobart-class air warfare destroyers, will be among the assets to be deployed in the exercise by the Royal Australian Navy, officials said, adding Indian Navy ships Sahyadri and Karmuk will be part of Indian platforms.

"The exercise, which is in keeping with the strong bond shared by the two navies, would be another step towards strengthening Indo-Australia defence relations and the continued efforts of both governments to work closely to enhance safety and security of the global commons," the Navy spokesperson said.

He said the two navies have built a robust relationship through regular exercises.

Earlier this month, navies of India and Russia carried out an exercise in the Bay of Bengal.

In July, the Indian Navy carried out a military exercise with a US Navy carrier strike group led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz off the coast of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The USS Nimitz is the world's largest warship.

In the exercise with the US Navy, four frontline warships of the Indian Navy participated. The US carrier strike group was transiting through the Indian Ocean Region on its way from the South China Sea.

The US Navy carrier strike group comprises USS Nimitz, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett and USS Ralph Johnson.

The Indian Navy carried out a similar exercise with the Japanese navy in June.

India has significantly expanded its deployment in the Indian Ocean Region with a plethora of warships and submarines following the border row to send across a message to Beijing.

The maritime space around the Malacca Strait is very critical for China's supply chain through sea routes.

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