PANAJI: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said that the Indian Navy must remain a "superior force" in the Indian Ocean region and assured that the government would extend full support for making it a truly bluewater navy.
Addressing the sailors and officers of the newly-inducted aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya after witnessing two days of Theatre Readiness Operational Level Exercise (TROPEX-2015), off the coast of Goa in the Arabian Sea, Parrikar said his stay on board the vessel had been instructive.
He said he is can now understand better the many difficult situations that defence forces, especially sailors and naval officers, face while ensuring the safety and security of the nation.
Parrikar was accompanied by Minister of State for Defence, Rao Inderjit Singh, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral RK Dhowan and Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, Vice Admiral AK Chopra.
During the exercise, Parrikar and others were provided an overview of the multi-dimensional capabilities of the navy.
The navy demonstrated multiple facets of operations during his stay which encompassed a variety of weapons firing, MiG 29K and Sea Harrier operations from two aircraft carriers -- the other being INS Viraat -- integration of the P8I aircraft with fleet, and operations by the navy's Marine Commandos.
INS Vikramaditya was inducted into the Navy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June last year.
The Defence Minister also witnessed a successful and impressive vertical launch of the Brahmos, the supersonic long range anti-ship cruise missile, from the recently commissioned stealth destroyer INS Kolkata, a milestone in itself.
A critical part of Anti-Missile Defence being surface-to- air Missiles (SAM), the Defence Minister last night witnessed the successful interception of a fast, low-flying, surface-to- surface missile by a SAM.
Parrikar also watched a full-scale air power demonstration from INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat involving MiG 29-Ks, Sea Harriers, Sea-kings, UH3H, Advanced Light Helicopters and Chetaks, an official statement said.
The recently-acquired MiG 29-Ks proved their mettle by showing the STOBAR operations, including the bombing runs.
Parrikar also witnessed naval commandos MARCOS demonstrate insertion and extraction in the middle of the ocean by slithering. During that drill, the Defence Minister also saw first hand the potency of the upgraded Sea Harriers, particularly in the networked environment, the statement said.
The two completely networked fleets of the Indian Navy -- Eastern and Western -- were kept widely dispersed across seas in the Indian Ocean, operating in a dense electronic environment to match their professional and technical proficiency.
New weapons, sensors, communication systems and tactics were being tested and tried to optimise the net combat power of the fleets.
Over 40 surface combatants of various classes, including the two aircraft carriers (Vikramaditya and Viraat), submarines, including the INS Chakra, a large number of aircraft and UAVs are participating in TROPEX-2015. Notably, after many years, the Navy has deployed two Carrier Task Forces during the exercise.
The exercise had a jointmanship element of IAF with participation by aircraft such as Sukhois, Mirages and Jaguars.
All the operations were facilitated by a robust and seamless communication network, including satellite communications under the Navy's overall thrust on Network Centric Operations, aligned with the Prime Minister's vision of 'Digital India', the statement said.
Parrikar also released a postage stamp commemorating the indigenous naval communication satellite, Rukmani, which is a dedicated naval satellite and takes the navy a step closer to achieving complete digitisation of communications.
The stamp release which took place on board INS Vikramaditya and was relayed live to naval units at sea as well as to the Maritime Operation Centres ashore. Rukmani has been pivotal in ensuring seamless connectivity between the triad of surface, sub-surface and air platforms of the navy.
Meanwhile, 30 NCC cadets from 8 Karwar NU NCC embarked on board INS Mumbai and witnessed the operations. Two of these cadets also got an opportunity to be transferred at sea to INS Vikramaditya by 'Jackstay' -– an evolution wherein ships transfer men and material between them.
Parrikar hoped a larger number of cadets were given exposure to the ways of the armed forces so that they understand their valour and are inspired to join the Navy, Army and Air Force.
The transformation of the Indian Navy into a future-ready, network-enabled force was epitomised in the operations room of INS Vikramaditya, the Flag ship of the Western Fleet, the statement said.
The power of a networked force was demonstrated as operational plots and pictures from remote sensors were transferred and collated, in a flash, to present a comprehensive picture of the battle-space and effect optimal use of the weapons on board the various potent ships, it said.
TROPEX-2015 will continue over the next few days.