Indian Armed Forces’ Largest Combat Drill has China as the Enemy for the First Time

By | Feb 17, 2017 08:47 AM EST
China is the enemy

The aircraft carriers INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat during TROPEX 2015. (Photo : Indian Navy)

The Indian Armed Forces' largest annual combat exercise -- the Theater Readiness Operational Exercise or TROPEX -- this year is being directed against a new enemy -- China.

Begun Jan. 27, the month-long TROPEX 2017 is being held in the Arabian Sea and in western India and involves the Indian Navy; the Indian Air Force; the Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Army. Warships and aircraft of the navy's Western Naval Command and Eastern Naval Command are leading the exercise.

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TROPEX 2017 is the largest ever TROPEX, the first of which was held in 2006.

TROPEX is designed to test the combat readiness of all three armed services and the Indian Coast Guard. It also seeks to strengthen interoperability and joint operations in complex combat environments.

Over 60 warships, among which are the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (069), the largest ship in the navy; the amphibious transport dock INS Jalashwa (L41); five submarines (including the nuclear-powered attack submarine INS Chakra), and more than 70 aircraft from the Western and Eastern Naval Command are taking part in TROPEX 2017.

The air force is deploying its Sukhoi Su-30MKI air superiority fighters; SEPECAT Jaguar attack aircraft; DRDO Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEWACS) aircraft; Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft and the Ilyushin Il-78MKI aerial refueling tankers.

A highlight of TROPEX 2017 was the firing of a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from the guided missile destroyer INS Chennai (D65), and the firing of a Kh-35 anti-ship missile from an upgraded IL-38 Sea Dragon maritime patrol plane.

The missile launches were witnessed by Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff; General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Army Staff and Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command.

The INS Chakra conducted simulated attacks on other Indian Navy's submarines that played the roles of Chinese and Pakistani submarines.

TROPEX 2017 also features Large Force Engagements (LFEs) by navy fleet units against threats simulated by the Indian Air Force, whose Su-30MKI, Jaguars, AWACS and Il-78MKI tankers represented enemy aircraft from the People's Liberation Army Air Force and People's Liberation Army Navy.

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