America’s New Partner Against China Shows Off Aircraft Carriers

0
58

MARCH 11, 2024

The Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers, the Russian-origin INS Vikramaditya and the indigenous INS Vikrant, were on display during the first week of March as part of the Navy’s Commanders’ Conference as per images by the Ministry of Defense on March 9, 2024. India demonstrated its two aircraft carriers operating together amid a complex geopolitical environment in the Indian Ocean and West Asia. Instagram/Indian Navy

India has demonstrated the capability of two aircraft carriers operating together amid a complex geopolitical environment in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean.

The Indian navy showcased its two aircraft carriers, the Russian-origin INS Vikramaditya and the locally built INS Vikrant, during the end of February and into March.

In March, both carriers executed simultaneous launches of MiG-29K fighters from their decks, video footage showed. During the launches, the INS Vikramaditya also hosted the initial segment of the Indian navy’s Biannual Naval Commanders’ Conference.

The Indian navy has played an active role in the Red Sea in recent months, as Houthis continue to target cargo vessels. On March 6, the Indian navy rescued MV True Confidence, a Barbados-flagged and Greek-operated merchant vessel, which was targeted in a ballistic missile attack by Houthis.

The Iran-backed Houthis say they aim to blockade cargo shipments bound for Israel in support of Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip. The Houthis oppose Israel and have said they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinian militant group Hamas fighting in the Gaza Strip. Since October, the Houthis have attacked cargo vessels linked to Israel, the United States, and its allies.

The Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers, the Russian-origin INS Vikramaditya and the indigenous INS Vikrant, were on display during the first week of March as part of the Navy’s Commanders’ Conference as per images by the Ministry of Defense on March 9, 2024. India demonstrated its two aircraft carriers operating together amid a complex geopolitical environment in the Indian Ocean and West Asia. Instagram/Indian Navy

“Commending the brave and prompt response by the Indian Navy to recent incidents and developments in West Asia and the adjoining seas, the Raksha Mantri [the Hindi name for India’s defense minister] exhorted the Commanders to remain poised for operations across the spectrum of conflict. He underscored the leadership role expected of the Indian Navy towards ensuring peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region,” India’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement after the Naval Commanders’ Conference.

China’s military has called the Indian navy’s rescue missions in the Red Sea “publicity stunts.”

“Recently, the Indian Navy has crafted several publicity stunts. After the clashes between Houthi militants and the US-UK coalition in the Red Sea, India promptly announced the dispatch of five Indian-version Aegis destroyers to escort ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters,” the People’s Liberation Army said in an opinion article.

On March 6, the Indian navy inaugurated a new base called INS Jatayu, located on Minicoy island in the Lakshadweep archipelago.

The INS Jatayu is close to the Maldives, traditionally India’s ally, which has grown close to China in recent months as the island nation now looks toward Beijing as a regional security and economic partner.

Plans are underway to further enhance Minicoy’s strategic value by adding an airstrip and expanding its capabilities to support larger naval and air operations, Indian newspaper The Hindu reported.

The two Indian aircraft carriers showcased during the Naval Commanders’ Conference made their way to Visakhapatnam on India’s east coast, the seat of the navy’s Eastern Naval Command, to participate in Exercise Milan, a biennial multinational naval exercise first initiated in 1995. In its 2024 edition, the exercise included 50 nations participating with 35 vessels and 50 aircraft, reported NDTV, an Indian news outlet.

This was INS Vikramaditya‘s maiden visit to Visakhapatnam and INS Vikrant‘s first introduction to what will become her homeport.

“INS Vikramaditya berthed at Visakhapatnam for the first time, while it was Vikrant‘s first visit to her eventual homeport. INS Vikrant sported its MFSTAR primary radar panels and MRSAM launchers, which were fitted in recent months at Cochin Shipyard Limited. These equipment were absent when the two carriers last sailed together in mid-2023,” Naval News reported.

Milan 2024 served as a platform for both carriers to launch various sorties and partake in a group sail alongside ships and aircraft from a host of countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, France, and the USA, Business Standard reported.

India hosted delegations from these nations aboard the carriers as part of its defense diplomacy efforts. The Ministry of Defense has previously commented on the export interest for the Vikrant carrier design, Naval News reported.

The Indian navy’s strategic vision includes an ambition to operate three carriers to ensure sustained operational capabilities, focusing on acquiring a large CATOBAR-equipped carrier—which stands for Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery—as the ultimate goal, the report continued.


Courtesy: Newsweek