India conducts dual aircraft carrier exercise in a warning to China

Two aircraft carriers were part of a combined operation in the Arabian Sea earlier this week.
Ameya Paleja
Indian Navy warships
Indian Navy warships


The Indian Navy demonstrated "formidable maritime capabilities" when it carried out a naval exercise with two aircraft carriers, a feat that neighbor China has not achieved so far. This is not the first time India has carried out such an exercise, but it comes at a time when countries are looking to counter China's rising dominance in the region, CNN reported.

With China exerting its military muscle in the South China Sea, countries in the region are worried. Interesting Engineering has previously reported how China built artificial islands with the pure aim of boosting its military presence.

The presence of the U.S. military's surveillance drones in the area has often been met with aggression from pilots of Chinese fighter jets, further deteriorating diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In such a situation, the presence of a local force that can counter China's aggression is required, and a naval exercise by the Indian Navy can make China more cautious in its outlook.

India's dual aircraft carrier naval exercise

Earlier this week, the two aircraft carriers of the Indian Navy, INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant, led a naval exercise that involved more than 35 aircraft as well as multiple surface ships and submarines.

While the U.S. Navy leads the world in the sheer number of aircraft carriers in active service, most countries operate just one aircraft carrier. China and India are the only nations with two active aircraft carriers, but the former has never conducted an exercise with both vessels involved. In recent memory, only the U.S. has conducted such an exercise.

INS Vikramaditya is a modified Kiev-class carrier bought from Russia and entered service in 2013. INS Vikrant, on the other hand, was indigenously developed and built at $3 billion. The carrier was commissioned last year.

Rejuvenation of the Indian Navy

India's history with aircraft carriers dates back to 1961, when it purchased its first carrier from Britain in 1957 and was the first country in Asia to own one. In 1987, it added another carrier and operated them both for a decade. Between 2013 and 2017, it again had two aircraft carriers and with the introduction of INS Vikrant, it is in a position to sustain their operation together for longer periods of time.

With another indigenously built aircraft carrier in the works, the rejuvenation of capabilities of the Indian Navy is a positive development for members of the Quad- the U.S., Japan, and Australia, all of which have interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

In this press release, the Indian Navy called its aircraft carriers "floating sovereign airfields" that were ready to support "collective" security needs in the region.

The Indian and the U.S. Navy jointly conduct naval exercises every year, providing a learning opportunity about handling larger fleets of aircraft carriers. With Chinese aggression in the Himalayan border and the Indian Ocean, India is keen to strengthen its capabilities and the recent demonstration is a step in this direction.

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