Indian Navy mulls joint patrol with Singapore, Malaysia

September 26th, 2004  

Topic: Indian Navy mulls joint patrol with Singapore, Malaysia

The chief of the Singapore Navy will be here next week looking to intensify joint activity with India as the defence establishment charts a course in military diplomacy to underpin the foreign ministry's "look east" policy.

Rear Admiral Ronnie Tay will be in the capital and meet his Indian counterpart Admiral Arun Prakash even as the Indian Air Force is preparing for an exercise with the Singapore Air Force in early October.

The Singapore Air Force will deploy six F-16 aircraft for the exercises to be held in the skies over Kalaikunda, Gwalior and Pokhran. The IAF is particularly keen on exercising with F-16 fighters, the frontline aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force.

In his talks with the Indian military establishment - the Singapore navy chief is due to meet the chief of army staff, General .C. Vij, and the vice-chief of air staff - Tay is expected to pick up the threads of a proposal at the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) meet in Bangkok last month for joint patrolling with the Indian Navy of busy sea lanes of communication.

Delhi is also considering a similar proposal from the Malaysian government. The navy conducts joint patrols in the Malacca Straits with the US Navy and last fortnight extended a cooperative exercise (called IndIndoCorpat) in the region with the Indonesian Navy.

The chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy, Admiral Dato Seri Mohammad Anwar Bin HJ Mohammad Nor, met the Indian navy chief on September 7 and explored opportunities for training of Malaysian naval personnel and navy-to-navy cooperation on the high seas in the Indian Ocean Region.

Bimstec countries, the US and France as also other nations in the region are concerned over security in the sea lane called the "6 degree channel", which is just about a mile wide in some stretches and 200 nautical miles long. The region is south of Indira Point, the navy and the coast guard station in the South Andaman Islands.

The Indian Navy is also to begin a sixth instalment in the Malabar series of exercises with the US Navy off the west coast shortly. Defence sources said the exercise would be held off Goa and the US would deploy a Los Angeles class nuclear submarine for the war games.

The US deployment for the Malabar exercise will also include an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, USS Cowpens, a Perry class frigate and a P3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft.

The Indian Navy is currently evaluating the P3C Orion to reinforce its maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare capability. It is also evaluating the French aircraft Atlantique.

Indian deployment for the Malabar exercise will include a Delhi-class destroyer, a Brahmaputra-class guided missile frigate, TU-142 long-range maritime patrol aircraft and ship-based helicopters.

The exercise, held once a year, will focus on replenishment in the high seas, cross-deck landings, mid-sea air defence and anti-submarine warfare. The Malabar series of exercises were suspended after the 1998 Pokhran nuclear test by India but were revived two years ago.