New Delhi, Sep 5 (PTI) The Indian and Russian navies on Saturday carried out a range of complex maritime operations as part of a mega military exercise in the Bay of Bengal to further enhance their operational convergence, officials said.
The exercise comes at a time India is significantly expanding deployment of its warships in the Indian Ocean region in the wake of the festering border row with China in eastern Ladakh.
The Indian Ocean, considered the backyard of the Indian Navy, is critical to the country's strategic interests.
The officials said a wide spectrum of drills including surface and anti-aircraft drills, helicopter operations, maneuvers and cross-deck flying was carried out for the second consecutive day as part of the 11th edition of the biennial Indo-Russian exercise Indra Navy.
'The exercise epitomises the long-term strategic relationship between the two navies,' Indian Navy Spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.
The assets deployed in the exercise by the Russian Navy include destroyer Admiral Vinogradov, destroyer Admiral Tributs and fleet tanker Boris Butoma of the Pacific Fleet which are normally based at Vladivostok. The Indian Navy is represented by guided missile destroyer Ranvijay and fleet tanker Shakti, along with their integral helicopters.
In July, the Indian Navy carried out a military exercise with a US Navy carrier strike group led by 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 exercises with the Japanese navy in June. The Indian Navy has significantly expanded its deployment in the Indian Ocean region, deploying 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. PTI MPB ZMN