With an eye firmly on China as well as in tune with India’s “Act East” policy, the Navy has been bolstering force-levels on the eastern seaboard with new warships, maritime patrol aircraft and spy drones. The ongoing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh, which is into its ninth month now, has added a sense of urgency to the ongoing rebalance to the eastern seaboard.
Officers said Eastern Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain embarked on different warships over the last four days for a first-hand assessment during the “operational readiness inspection” of the Eastern Fleet.
Twenty-two warships, including the Ranvir-class guided-missile destroyers and Shivalik-class stealth frigates, participated in the review, which saw drills involving force protection against asymmetric attacks, weapon firings, anti-submarine warfare and fleet manoeuvres under realistic conditions.
“The fleet was put through paces to showcase the multi-dimensional warfare capabilities in protecting the vast maritime borders and offshore assets of the country,” said an officer.
“Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Eastern Fleet has maintained a very high tempo of operations to meet all national tasking in and beyond the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), including events in wake of the Galwan incident in Ladakh,” he added.
As earlier reported by TOI, India has also fast-tracked plans for “force accretion” and “military infrastructure development” in the strategically-located Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as an effective counter to China’s expanding footprint in the IOR.
The archipelago can serve as a military outpost to overlook China’s critical sea lanes transporting the bulk of its crude oil imports and other trade through the Malacca Strait.