With a focus to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Indian Navy has conducted over a month-long drill, its largest military exercise ever – the Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise (TROPEX-21) – in Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The biennial exercise had commenced in early January 2021 involving all three Commands of the Indian Navy, the Tri-Services Command at Port Blair, and elements of Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard that “aimed to validate its concepts of war-fighting across the entire spectrum of warfare,” according to the Indian Navy.
The exercise involving over 100 combatants practised various anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare scenarios simulating to take on the Chinese PLA’s Navy and Pakistan Navy weapon platforms in the IOR. The exercise witnessed live combat firings of missiles and torpedoes undertaken from warships, aircraft and submarines in complex multi-threat scenarios.
TROPEX also saw several “firsts’’ including Indian Navy’s Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft Ilyushin (IL 38SD) successfully firing Combat Kh35E anti-ship missiles during the theatre-level exercise. “The Combat Kh35E missiles launched from the aircraft successfully hit and sank the target on January 31,” the Ministry of Defence (MoD) statement said.
“This reaffirms the Indian Navy’s capability to carry out long-range maritime strikes in the Indian Ocean Region, a capability that is central to meeting operational challenges and ensuring safe seas, secure coasts,” it said. The exercise was aimed at validating the Indian Navy’s Operational Philosophy across the entire spectrum of conflict-ranging from addressing low end sub-conventional challenges to high-end conventional threats.
China has stepped up its submarine and warship patrols in the Indian Ocean over the past few years as well as its surface naval presence.