IAF to attend ‘Desert Flag’ air combat exercise
Indian Air Force (IAF) will participate in the multinational exercise, named as ‘Desert Flag’, which will be held in United Arab Emirates (UAE). 125 Personnel, 6 Sukhoi Fighter jets (Su-30 MKI) and 2 C-17 Globemaster-III aircraft will be a part of Indian contingent, which will attend the exercise. 10 countries, including France, The US, and Saudi Arabia will attend this high profile exercise which will be held for three weeks in March.
This would be the first instance of India participating in this high voltage air combat exercise in the Persian Gulf Region. The exercise will be coordinated by Air Warfare Centre, located at the Al Dhafira airbase in UAE. Greece, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait will join the exercise as the observers.
This is IAF’s 4th multilateral exercise in last 5 years, the previous ones being the American ‘Red Flag’ in 2016, ‘Blue Flag’ of Israel in 2017 and the Australian ‘Pitch Black’ exercise in 2018.
Indian Army plans Skiing expeditions along China Border
Following disengagement process between the Chinese PLA and Indian Army after a ten month long stand-off, Indian Army is all set to counter China’s expansionist habits. To counter Chinese attitude of creeping forward, by making strong incremental moves, Indian Army has come up with plans of engaging the high altitude regions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Army will be organizing mountaineering expeditions and research studies in these areas. A skiing expedition ‘ARMEX-21’ will be organized covering the distance from the Karakoram Pass to Lipulekh Pass that will include areas such as Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Garhwal and Kumaon sectors. The skiing expedition will also be carried out in the high reaches of Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory. The upcoming skiing expeditions will be open to army, civilians and foreign persons also. Through these expeditions a person will be experiencing forbidding mountain ridges, glaciers and numerous passes ranging from a height of 14,000 feet to 19,000 feet.
Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane explained the ‘salami-slicing’ tactics of China according to which the Northern neighbour makes small incremental moves into the coveted territory before claiming the same. Army Chief made it clear that India will not fall for such strategy. While addressing a webinar organized by the Vivekananda International Foundation, the Army Chief said that, small moves made by China largely go unnoticed and hence do not invite contestation by the rival party. Using this strategy China has continued its expansionist agenda without firing a shot or any loss of life as it has done in South China Sea. The Army Chief reiterated the point that despite the ongoing disengagement process, warning bells keep on ringing with respect to China owing to the existing trust deficit between the two countries.
Agalega: India’s Remote Island Military Base
North Agalega, a small, remote Mauritian island, located in the south-western Indian Ocean, 1122 kilometres north of Mauritius is a center of budding military infrastructure. Satellite images show major airfield and ports coming up on the island that India sought access to in 2015. India wants to develop the island as a major air and naval base for surveillance of the south-west Indian Ocean just like the one developed jointly by US-UK in Diego Garcia.
The island is around 12 kms long, 1.5 kms wide having a total population of less than 300 people. It is a former slave plantation. The main town of the island Vingt Cinq (twenty five in French) refers to the number of lashes received by slaves as a punishment. Satellite image shows a new 3000 metre runway- capable of hosting the Indian Navy’s new Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft. This post will facilitate both air and surface maritime patrols and will serve as an intelligence outpost. The project entails a new airport, port and logistics and communication facilities. Near the north end of the runway barracks and fields have also been developed which could be used as parade grounds or sporting facilities. This development will also ameliorate the conditions of the inhabitants of this remote island. The island’s development is a manifestation of PM Modi’s 2016 vision of Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), according to which India aims to collaborate with Indian Ocean countries to bring peace in the region and bring about all-round development of the nations in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Agalega will facilitate maritime patrols along the Mozambique Channel, a popular passage for large commercial ships and oil tankers. The staging point here will allow Indian Navy to explore shipping routes around southern Africa which accounts for a considerable portion of China’s energy imports.
DRDO’s Sindhu Netra deployed in space
The Sindhu Netra satellite developed by young scientists of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) was successfully deployed in space by Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) PSLV-C51. The satellite will bolster India’s surveillance capabilities to monitor activities of both military warships and merchant shipping in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The satellite has started communicating with the ground systems. If required, the satellite can carry out surveillance in areas such as South China Sea or the piracy prone areas of the Gulf of Aden and Somalia coast. Sindhu Netra is the first in the series of satellites that would enhance nation’s surveillance capabilities along the Ladakh border with China and border areas with Pakistan. The Indian security agencies need around four to six dedicated satellites to monitor the moves of the adversary along border areas and also up to a considerable depth inside the enemy territory. The government has set up the Defence Space Agency and a Defence Space Research Organization to look after the space assets and prevent any attacks on those assets from the adversaries. The government aims to bolster space arm of the defence forces in the coming future.