New Delhi: The Indian Navy is participating in a multinational anti-submarine warfare exercise with the ‘Quad’ countries, along with Canada, which began in Guam in Western Pacific earlier this month.
The exercise, titled Sea Dragon 2021, is taking place nearly two months after the conclusion of Exercise Malabar involving the Quad countries — India, Japan, the US and Australia.
The Navy has deployed one anti-submarine warfare aircraft, the P8I, for the exercise, which is set to continue till 28 January. The exercise involves drills aimed at tracking submarines.
Naval Base Guam is a strategic US naval base located on Apra Harbor.
Defence officials told ThePrint the Navy’s participation bears testimony to the level of interoperability achieved by the force enabling it to take part in exercises across the globe.
Sea Dragon 2021 centres on anti-submarine warfare training and excellence to include 125 hours of in-flight training — ranging from tracking simulated targets to the final problem of finding and tracking USS Chicago, a US Navy Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine.
During training sessions, pilots and flight officers from all countries will build plans and discuss incorporating tactics, capabilities and equipment for their respective nations into the exercise. Along with the US, the Royal Australian Air Force, Canadian Air Force, Indian Navy, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force are participating.
‘Navy to get acclimated with Guam’
Vice-Admiral Anup Singh (retired), former commander-in-chief of the Eastern Naval Command, told ThePrint that participating in a high-level exercise with an anti-submarine focus makes a lot of sense in today’s day and age, particularly in the current geopolitical scenario.
“Guam is one of the largest US naval bases, and the region is of great interest to us. Exercising there with the US will help the Navy to acclimatise with the area, thus adding to the confidence. There is also a lot of global interest in that part of the pacific,” he said.
The Navy veteran further said that what adds to the experience is exercising with contemporary systems like the P8I, which is a modern aircraft that also has a great amount of maritime reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities.
“Very few platforms today have these detection systems against submarines,” he added.
India’s other global exercises
India has remained tight-lipped about the exercise, while the US has been giving out information about its participation.
In November, India concluded the 24th edition of joint maritime ‘Exercise Malabar 2020’, which saw Australia’s participation for the first time in 13 years, along with the US and Japan.
The Malabar series of exercises had begun as an annual bilateral naval exercise between India and the US in 1992. In the past few years, the annual maritime exercise has been conducted off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea in 2018 and the coast of Japan in 2019.
The Indian and the French air forces are also carrying out a five-day bilateral air exercise, Exercise Desert Knight-21, which began on 20 January that will include aircraft such as Rafales, Mirage 2000s, Sukhoi-30s, mid-air refuellers, and airborne warning and control system platforms.