In­dian Navy scopes out Free­dom class Lit­toral Ship at Mal­abar 2015

SP's MAI - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

With Ex­er­cise Mal­abar 2015 un­der way in the Bay of Ben­gal, In­dian Navy per­son­nel have got­ten a com­pre­hen­sive first op­er­a­tional look at Lit­toral Com­bat Ship (LCS) USS Fort Worth, the most re­cent of the Free­dom class ves­sels built by Lock­heed Martin for the US Navy and one of the sales op­por­tu­ni­ties the Pen­tagon has been look­ing to push in In­dia. Cur­rently on a 16-month ro­ta­tional de­ploy­ment in sup­port of the Indo-Asi­aPa­cific Re­bal­ance, USS Fort Worth is tai­lor-made to pa­trol the re­gion’s lit­torals and work hull-to-hull with other navies, as it is now with In­dian frigates and de­stroy­ers as part of the sea phase of Mal­abar 2015.

The Free­dom class ships have been likened to corvettes in terms of size, but are known to bring to the ta­ble a host of ca­pa­bil­i­ties the In­dian Navy has been in­ter­ested in. The Navy in re­cent years has laid stress on in­duct­ing more off­shore pa­trol ves­sels (OPVs) for rapid de­ploy­ment to threat sites near shore with ad­e­quate fire­power and agility to de­ter as­sy­met­ric threats. The de­ci­sion to field USS Forth Worth as part of the cur­rent ex­er­cise may be seen in the light of on­go­ing eval­u­a­tion of that op­por­tu­nity. The In­dian Navy per­son­nel on-board USS Fort Worth also got a chance to wit­ness MQ-8B Fire Scout un­manned he­li­copter oper­a­tions, though this was not the first time they saw this.

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