India may have halted its bilateral and largely symbolic ‘hand-to-hand’ exercise with China since the military standoff broke out in eastern Ladakh in May last year, but all systems reach as far as other countries.
“The exercises improve military and strategic cooperation, building trust and interoperability with different countries, in addition to honing combat skills, assimilating best practices and operational tactics,” said a senior Army official. “Defense diplomacy is an instrument to promote India’s diplomatic interests,” he added. India, for example, has stepped up its reach to Africa, where China has made great strides, and military exercises are used as one of the tools.
Then of course there is strategic signaling to countries like China through exercises like the ‘Malabar’ ring between India, the US, Japan and Australia, the last edition of which was held off Guam in the western Pacific towards end of August.
The growing strategic congruence to deter coercion in the Indo-Pacific it also went through the ‘Quad-plus-France’ exercise called La Pérouse ‘in the Bay of Bengal in April. Having already set a blazing pace in exercising this year, India has several more scheduled in the past four months. A ‘Quad-plus-UK’ naval exercise, for example, is scheduled in the Bay of Bengal next month. This will be followed by the first three-service exercise with the United Kingdom, focusing on the 65,000-tonne carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth with its fifth-generation F-35B fighter jets, off the west coast from 24 to 27 October. India has conducted three-service exercises with just the United States and Russia so far.
the Indian army, having concluded the bilateral exercises’Indra‘in Russia and’ Kazind ‘in Kazakhstan, it has currently deployed around 200 soldiers for the ongoing 17-nation’ Zapad ‘exercise in Nizhny in Russia. Other future exercises include ‘Surya Kiran’ with Nepal, ‘Mitra Shakti‘with Sri Lanka,’ Ajeya Warrior ‘with the United Kingdom,’ Yudh Abhyas’ with the United States and ‘Shakti’ with France in the period from September to November.
the NavyIn turn, it has conducted bilateral exercises with countries ranging from Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand to Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Brunei, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Kingdom and Germany this year. the IAF he also sent his Sukhoi-30MKI C-17 Globemaster-III fighters and aircraft to participate in the ‘Desert Flag’ exercise, which was attended by air forces from India, the USA, France, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.