- The Indian, and Indonesian navies are taking part in a new bilateral exercise known as 'Samudra Shakti'
- Exercise has been widely interpreted as part of New Delhi's move to strengthen its presence in the strategic maritime region
In a further sign of increasingly cordial ties between the two services, the Indian Navy's Rajput (Kashin II)-class destroyer IS Rana (D 52) has arrived in Surabaya for a bilateral naval exercise with the Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL).
The drills, which have been named Exercise 'Samudra Shakti', is seeing its inaugural edition, and is taking place from 12 to 18 November in Surabaya for the harbour phase, and waters off Java for sea phase.
"The aim of the exercise is to strengthen bilateral relations, expand maritime co-operation, enhance interoperability, and exchange best practices," said the Indian Ministry of Defence in a statement on the drills. "The visit of the ship seeks to promote India's solidarity with Indonesia towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain and to strengthen existing bonds between the navies of the two nations," the ministry added.
Among operations that will be carried out include a surface warfare gunnery drill, search-and-rescue (SAR) practices, and counter-piracy serials.
Prior to 'Samudra Shakti', the Indian Navy and the TNI-AL have had regular naval interactions, but these centred mostly around a biennial co-ordinated patrol along the international maritime boundary line between both countries. The new bilateral exercise features more complex operations, such as helicopter manoeuvres.
Besides Rana , Jane's understands from a TNI-AL Armada II official that other assets involved in the sea phase are namely the Diponegoro (Sigma)-class corvette, KRI Sultan Iskandar Muda (367) with an embarked AS565 MBe Panther helicopter, a CN235 maritime patrol aircraft, and a Beechcraft Baron G58 trainer aircraft. The TNI-AL's delegation to the exercise will comprise about 380 personnel.
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