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USS Nimitz to return for Bay of Bengal war game

Source: PTI
July 13, 2007 18:39 IST
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Twenty warships from five countries, including three aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and fighters, will assemble in the Bay of Bengal in September for a major naval exercise to be hosted by India.

The other countries taking part in the war game are the US, Japan, Australia and Singapore and the warships that will be fielded for it include two American nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, USS Nimitz and Kitty Hawk, defence ministry officials said in New Delhi on Friday.

Besides the carriers with their full complement of 80 to 100 aircraft, the exercise codenamed Malabar-07 will feature missile destroyers, stealth frigates, nuclear and conventional submarines and tankers.

The five-day manoeuvres will also see shore-based Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy's Sea Harrier jets and Sea King helicopters from the INS Viraat in action.

Last month's joint manoeuvres by Indian, US and Japanese warships off the Japanese coast in the Pacific had evoked a strong reaction from China. Beijing issued a demarche to the three nations, demanding to know the reason for them undertaking such a wargame close to Chinese territory.

Australia's Defence Minister Brendan Nelson allayed Beijing's fears, saying there was no quadrilateral security alliance comprising Australia, the US, India and Japan in the offing.

"This will be the biggest multilateral maritime exercise the Indian Navy will be involved in so far. The joint interaction will have all the three dimensions -- air elements, surface warships and submarines," an official said.

The grounds for the multilateral exercise, which will involve complex manoeuvres compressed in a short timeframe, were laid earlier this year.

This is the first time that the Indian Navy is conducting a major joint exercise with foreign navies along the country's eastern coast. It earlier conducted a war game at a lower level with the Russian Navy and the IndraDhanush series of exercises with Singapore in the Bay of Bengal.

Most of the Indian Navy's bilateral exercises with the US, French and British navies have been carried out in the Arabian Sea.

India conducted war games with the US nuclear-powered carriers Nimitz and Kitty Hawk off the Goa coast in 2005. Last year, Indian warships had a 'short notice meet-up' with an American flotilla that comprised the US Navy's largest carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, south of Sri Lanka.

Prior to getting a taste of war games with bigger warships, an Indian naval flotilla, including the country's lone carrier, INS Viraat, is embarking on a tour of West Asia.

During this tour, the warships are likely to make port calls in the Gulf states and mainland Arabian countries.
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