India’s Act East Policy: India and Singapore to have joint naval exercises from Saturday — SIMBEX 18

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s departure to Singapore for the India-ASEAN summit, fortnight long 25th edition of SIMBEX starts from Nov 10-21 off Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.

SIMBEX 2018 will be the largest edition since 1994 in terms of scale and complexity. To mark the historical occasion, both navies are undertaking exercises over an extended geography. The Indian Navy is being represented by the Ranvir class destroyer – INS Ranvijay, two Project 17 multirole stealth frigates – INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, the Project 28 ASW corvette – INS Kadmatt the Project 25A missile corvettes, INS Kirch, the OPVs INS Sumedha and INS Sukanya, the Fleet Support Ship, INS Shakti, a Sindhughosh Class submarine, INS Sindhukirti, the P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol and ASW aircraft from INAS 312, Dornier 228 Maritime Patrol aircraft from INAS 311, Mk 132 Hawk AJTs from INAS 551 and integral helicopters such as the UH3H, Seaking 42 B, Seaking 42C and Chetak utility helicopters.

From the Singapore Navy two Formidable Class stealth frigates – RSS Formidable and RSS Steadfast, one Littoral Mission Vessel -RSS Unity, two Missile Corvettes, RSS Vigour and RSS Valiant, an Archer class Submarine, RSS Swordsman, ‘Swift Rescue’ a Deep Sea Rescue Vehicle (DSRV), a Fokker F50 maritime reconnaissance aircraft, embarked S70B helicopters and Scan Eagle unmanned aerial systems will be part of the exercise.

This year, since the two sides are celebrating their 25th edition there will be a diverse range of exercises at sea ranging from live weapon drills including multiple missile firings, Heavy Weight Torpedo (HWT) and Medium Range Gun/ Anti Submarine Rocket firings; advanced Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercises, Submarine Rescue demonstrations; integrated Surface and Anti-Air Warfare (AAW); Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations and Cross Deck Helicopter flying among others.

Recently, Indian Navy has inducted its own DSRV and proved the capability at sea on the western seaboard.

Earlier this year in June, on the side-lines of the Shangrila Dialogue, leaders of both countries Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had inked several agreements including those under the ‘Defence and Strategic Partnership Sectors’.

The most important agreement was the ‘Implementation Agreement between Indian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy concerning Mutual Coordination, Logistics and Services Support for Naval Ships’, Submarines and Naval Aircraft (including Ship borne Aviation Assets) visits. The Implementation Agreement since coming in force has facilitated deployment of naval assets from bases of the other through logistics and services support.

The initial harbour phase will be held at Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands from 10 to 12 November followed by Sea Phase from Nov 12-16 in the Andaman Sea. The second harbour phase from Nov 16-19 will be held at Visakhapatnam – ‘the City of Destiny’.

High level delegations including respective Defence Ministries are also scheduled to observe the exercises including advanced weapon firings marking a new high in the series.

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