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Indian, Russian Navies to hold maritime exercise next week

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VISAKHAPATNAM (PTI): Indian Navy's Eastern Naval Command (ENC) would be hosting the last bilateral exercise of the year with the Russian Federation Navy next week, its chief said Thursday.

The exercise, 'Indra-2015', will be conducted from December 7 to 12, where ships from the two prominent Navies will take part, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, ENC, Vice-Admiral Satish Soni said.

The exercise, among other things, will involve live firing drills, air defence and anti-submarine operations.

Addressing a press conference on board 'INS Sahyadri' in Visakhapatnam, Soni said the city-headquartered ENC this year held bilateral exercises with the Navies of France, Japan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the UK and the US.

Talking about the mandate of India's key naval command, Soni said ENC has been tasked to protect India's maritime interests on the East Coast.

The area of responsibility of the ENC encompasses a major portion of Bay of Bengal and extends up to the southern Indian Ocean region, he said.

Besides conducting exercises, ENC hosted French Naval ships, 'Dixmude' and 'Aconit' in June this year where the visiting personnel demonstrated landing catamaran operations, he said.

ENC has engaged with key stakeholders like port authorities, offshore operators and fishermen through regular security exercises and awareness campaigns, Soni said.

About force levels augmentation and inductions, the Vice-Admiral said the Hawk squadron was 13-aircraft strong and the balance four will be inducted in 2016.

The P8I Squadron was at full strength with the induction of eighth aircraft on October 13. The torpedo launch and recovery vessel 'Astradharani' was commissioned on October 6, he added.

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