New Delhi, Jun 25 (PTI) The just-concluded two-day military exercise between India and the US was another milestone in boosting strategic ties and reinforcing commitment to an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, the defence ministry said on Friday.
India and the US carried out a multi-domain wargame in the Indian Ocean from June 23 to 24 involving an array of air defence platforms to consolidate their operational synergy in the face of China's increasing military presence in the region.
The US deployed its naval carrier strike group led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan as well as a fleet of F-18 fighter jets and E-2C Hawkeye all-weather aircraft for the exercise.
The Indian assets at the exercise included Jaguar and Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets, IL-78 air-to-air refuelling tanker aircraft, AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft and warships Kochi and Teg.
'The exercise has been another milestone in strengthening cooperation between the two countries and reinforcing the shared values as partner militaries, in ensuring freedom of seas and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order,' the defence ministry said in a statement.
It said the exercise was a key enabler in building interoperability and strengthening military coordination between the two nations.
'The exercise has been a key enabler in building interoperability and strengthening the defence coordination between the two nations and witnessed high tempo-naval operations at sea,' it said.
'These included intense air dominance exercises, advanced air defence exercises, anti-submarine exercises, tactical manoeuvres and cross deck helicopter operations,' the ministry added.
The US Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is currently deployed in the Indian Ocean Region.
A carrier battle group or carrier strike group is a mega naval fleet comprising an aircraft carrier, accompanied by a large number of destroyers, frigates and other ships.
The high-tempo exercise included advanced air defence drills, cross deck helicopter operations and anti-submarine manoeuvres with an aim to hone the war-fighting skills and enhance interoperability between the two sides.
The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.
In June 2016, the US had designated India a 'Major Defence Partner'.
The two countries have also inked key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provides for deeper cooperation.
The two sides have also signed the COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.
In October last year, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties.
The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries. PTI MPB ANB ANB