The Indian Navy and the IAF, lately announced exercises with a US Navy Carrier group transiting through the Indian Ocean. To a better recall, in which Indian Naval Ships (INS) Kochi and Teg along with P8i and MiG 29K aircrafts, were seen participating with US Navy Carrier Strike Group Ronald Reagan during its transit through Indian Ocean Region (Arabian Sea) on 23 and 24 Jun 2021. The IAF too participated with Jaguar and Su-30 fighter aircraft of their maritime squadrons.
In general, these exercises are called ‘PASSEX’ or Passage Exercises are routinely conducted by the Navy as an endeavor to build interoperability and enhance levels of joint operations with friendly and like-minded navies of friendly nations.
These exercises typically involve a rendezvous between participating forces at sea and a 24-72 hour long sail together with various drills that range from basic communication exercises to more complex operations such as boarding operations, cross-deck helicopter landings and sometimes even weapon firing drills.
Indian Navy’s lone aircraft carrier, Vikramaditya, currently undergoing a major refit and, therefore, was not available to participate in this PASSEX and, hence with only the IAF participating, as per the sources; required the exercise to be geographically shifted closer to the coast to involve Jaguar and Su 30 aircraft relevantly.
While this PASSEX concluded attaining its objectives pertinently, it was another stark reminder to the limitations posed by the lack of naval airpower at sea due to the absence of our valiant carrier – INS Vikramaditya. Her absence was felt immensely.