Indian Navy’s 'largest war game' under way in the Indian Ocean region to test combat preparedness

Published : February 11, 2021 16:35 IST

Indian Naval Ships take part in Tropex ’21, the Indian Navy’s largest war game to date, which commenced in early January in the Indian Ocean Region. Photo: PTI

India’s push to advance its strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region (IOR) got a morale boost when the Indian Navy began a mega war game involving almost all its operational assets, including warships, corvettes, submarines, fighter aircraft and maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters, and fast patrol boats. The gargantuan, biennial ‘Tropex 21’, or ‘Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise’, is spread over a vast geographical expanse in the Indian Ocean region, including its adjunct waters, and will see assets from the Navy’s western and eastern fleets. The exercise seeks to test the Navy’s combat and defence operational preparedness in the wider IOR.

As spelt out by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during the recent Aero India 2021 air show, India sees for itself an increased role in the IOR, especially as a protector of the international order in the region, as a guardian maintaining open sea lanes and navigational freedom and also to safeguard its own national interests in the maritime domain. The exercise also includes units from the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard.

As spelt out in a statement from the Navy, Tropex 21, “the Indian Navy’s largest war game, which commenced in early January is currently under way with participation of all operational units of Indian Navy, including ships, submarines, aircraft as well as units of the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard”. The Navy said that the exercise which is being conducted in distinct phases would culminate by the third week of February. According to the spokesperson, “The various phases of Tropex 21 will also test the Navy’s transition from peacetime to hostilities.”

The Navy said that in the initial part of Tropex 21, the Navy along with other stakeholders had conducted a two-day mega drill in January covering the country's 7,516 km coastline and exclusive economic zone. The ‘Sea Vigil’ exercise between January 12 and 13 was billed as India's largest coastal defence drill and it was aimed at validating the coastal defence setup which was revamped after the 26/11 terror attack. “Valuable lessons emerging from the exercise are being incorporated in the existing procedures to further fine-tune the coastal defence architecture of the country,” the Navy’s statement added.

‘Exercise Sea Vigil’ was followed by a large-scale tri-service joint amphibious exercise AMPHEX-21, which was conducted in the Andaman and Nicobar group of Islands from January 21 to 25.

The Navy statement went on to state: “The amphibious Amphex 21 was aimed at validating India's capabilities to safeguard the territorial integrity of its island territories and enhance operational synergy and joint warfighting capabilities amongst the three services. The ‘weapon workout’ phase of Tropex 21, which concluded recently, witnessed multiple 'on-target’ ordnance deliveries, including missiles, torpedoes and rockets, from frontline warships, aircraft and submarines and demonstrated the lethal firepower of the Indian Navy,"

The Navy’s 'weapon workout' phase was an exercise to reaffirm its capability to carry out long range maritime strikes in the IOR, a capability that is central to meeting operational challenges and ensuring safe seas and secure coasts.