Defence Minister A.K. Antony Reviews TROPEX 2012
THEATRE LEVEL READINESS AND Operational Exercise (TROPEX) is conducted by the Indian Navy as a major annual exercise of the combined fleets to test its preparedness to deal with any contingency. Almost 40 ships including submarines and 13 naval aircraft and UAVs participated in the exercise held this year. Units of the ICG and 18 aircraft of the IAF also took part in the exercise which was conducted off the Visakhapatnam Coast. Defence Minister A.K. Antony spent two days with the Indian Navy on February 7-8, 2012, accompanied by the CNS Admiral Nirmal Verma and the FoC-in-C, Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral A.K. Chopra to witness the exercise. The highlights were: Two completely networked fleets, widely dispersed across seas in the Indian Ocean, operated in a dense electronic environment to match their professional and technical proficiency. Jointmanship was added by the participation of IAF aircraft such as AWACS, Sukhois, Mirages and Jaguars. Defence Minister witnessed INS Shivalik execute various evolutions including a ‘surface gun shoot’ and Jackstay with INS Shakti in copybook fashion. Incidentally, it may be recalled that the Defence Minister had commissioned INS Shivalik on April 29, 2010 and Admiral Verma had commissioned INS Shakti on October 1, 2011. The integration of INS Shivalik and INS Shakti has been fully achieved. The Defence Minister also saw operational networking during his visit to INS Viraat as operational plots and pictures from remote sensors were transferred and collated in a flash to present a comprehensive picture of the battle space and effect optimal use of the weapons on board the various potent ships. The recently upgraded Sea Harriers proved their lethality with ranges extended by air-to-air refuelling and BVR missiles. Su 30MKI aircraft, Mirages and Jaguars, being directed by an IAF AWACS, operating over sea for the first time tested the air defence capability of the INS Viraat. A critical part of anti-missile defence was the successful interception of a fast, low flying, surface-to-surface missile by a SAM. BrahMos, supersonic long-range anti-shipping missile, was launched successfully from a recently upgraded Ranvir class destroyer. The Defence Minister also witnessed a full scale air power demonstration from INS Viraat with Seakings, Sea Harriers and Chetaks participating. MARCOS carried out a precision landing on the flight deck in the middle of the sea using combat free fall technique. Addressing the ‘Viraatees’, the Minister said that he was “very very happy to be on India’s most prestigious INS Viraat” and added that by early next year the Indian Navy is likely to operate one more aircraft carrier Vikramaditya and the indigenous aircraft carrier some years later. Stating that 26/11 changed the security matrix, he said that the entire nation now acknowledges the critical requirement of maritime security and the important role of the Indian Navy. Complementing the men on their professionalism, the Minister added “Wherever we go (abroad), Indian Navy is the most sought after service...numerous countries want more cooperation with the Indian Navy.”
TROPEX 2012 continued over the next few days and the successful missile launches and interceptions, uninterrupted seamless operations in a networked condition with BVR interceptions herald the emergence of a capable and potent ‘future ready’ Indian Navy.