Following the Indian Navy's display of maritime teeth and flawless execution of two carrier battle group operations off the coast of Goa in the first week of June, India's latest aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, is on its way to Cochin Shipyard for a "guarantee refit" and will be ready for long endurance operations by the end of 2023.
Around June 3-4, the Indian Navy displayed its formidable maritime capabilities with strike forces led by INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant wargaming on high seas in the Arabian Sea with 35 MiG-29K strike aircraft, newly acquired MH 60 R helicopters from the United States, and a slew of warships and submarines. Top navy commanders witnessed the synchronised combat practise as India asserted its authority in the Indian Ocean.
Despite the fact that the INS Vikrant is on its way to its obligatory "guarantee refit," the INS Vikramaditya carrier is fully operational following a massive upgrade last year and will start charting seas this year. The Indian Navy will send warships, submarines, and P-8I anti-submarine warfare planes to the Quad Malabar exercises off the coast of Sydney this August, with the US, Japan, and the host Australian Navy.
While INS Vikrant is getting refitted, the Narendra Modi government is also expected to take a decision on acquiring possibly 26 Rafale-Maritime aircraft for the new aircraft carrier to maintain operational synergy and seamless maintenance of its top end fighter platforms with the Indian Air Force. The IAF’s Rafale fighters will be seen in action at the Bastille Day parade on July 14 in France with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in attendance at the show.
Given the Indian Navy's marine capabilities to project supremacy in the Indo-Pacific, it is no longer operationally or doctrinally bound to the Straits of Malacca and the Gulf of Aden, as previously predicted. While the Indian Navy anticipates need for a third aircraft carrier, the Navy intends to deploy one carrier on India's eastern and western seaboards, with mission-specific deployments and no maritime diplomacy.
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