NEW DELHI – India has deployed its aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya in the Arabian Sea at a time China and Pakistan are holding a nine-day mega naval exercise in the region, a move seen as New Delhi sending a clear signal to its two neighbours.
Top officials of the Naval headquarters were on board the aircraft carrier when it was deployed in the strategic mission earlier this week, military sources said.
Pakistan and China on Monday launched a major drill in the North Arabian Sea with an aim to increase inter-operability and strategic cooperation between their two navies.
The exercise ‘Sea Guardians’ is taking place in the midst of heightened tension between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. Key platforms of both China and Pakistan, including submarines, destroyers and frigates, are part of the exercise.
Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, with MiG29K fighters on board, has been sent with a strategic objective, the sources said without elaborating.
A Navy spokesperson said Deputy Chief of Naval Staff M S Pawar reviewed INS Vikramaditya’s operations in the Arabian Sea.
The deputy chief was extremely pleased to witness the “intense air operations” with high levels of motivation and will to win that were evident on-board the “Queen of the Battle”, the spokesperson said.
He expressed confidence that INS Vikramaditya will “live up to the name and remain victorious in battle – always”, the spokesperson added.
China has been expanding its presence in the North Arabian Sea and is developing Pakistan’s deep water Gwadar port in the region.
Gwadar is being connected through the over USD 60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to China’s Xinjiang province, providing a key land route to China to access the warm waters of Arabian Sea.
The Arabian Sea provides entry to the Indian Ocean where China has built a logistics base at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
In September, the Indian Navy drove out a Chinese PLA ship from India’s Exclusive Economic Zone and had warned that such activities will be dealt with sternly.
The INS Vikramaditya, commissioned into the Indian Navy in November 2013, is considered one of the top rated aircraft carriers globally.
The Russian-origin ship is often called a floating airfield. The 44,500 tonne is about 284-m-long and its height is around 60 m, which is like a 20 storeyed building from keel to the highest point.
The ship has a total of 22 decks and it has the ability to carry over 30 aircraft comprising an assortment of MiG 29K/Sea Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters.
Northern Army Commander Holds Talks With Chinese General
Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh on Friday concluded his four-day visit to China, including a rare trip to the volatile Xinjiang province bordering PaK, during which he discussed a host of issues including border area management, bilateral military ties and defence cooperation.
Lt Gen Singh, whose area of operations covered Jammu and Kashmir region including Ladakh and Aksai Chin over which China has claims, concluded his visit with a meeting at Xinjiang’s provincial capital Urumqi with Lt Gen Liu Wanlong, Commander of China’s Xinjiang Military Command which oversees China’s borders along PaK.
He also visited China’s 9th Engineer Regiment of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) based there on Thursday, the Indian Embassy said in a statement.
Lt Gen Singh, who arrived in China on January 7, met top Chinese military officials specially that of PLA’s Western Command which oversees the 3488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC). China also claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet.
On January 7, Gen Singh met the Commander of PLA Gen Han Weigao in Beijing.
He was given a ceremonial welcome when he arrived at the PLA’s Western Command headquarters in Chengdu on January 8, where he held talks with Gen Zhao Zongqi, the Commander of Western Theatre Command.
Lt Gen Singh and his delegation also visited a Special Operations Brigade at Chengdu where they witnessed a counter-terrorism drill, according to the statement.
The visit of the delegation is the first high-level military to military engagement in 2020 between India and China.
During talks with the Chinese military officials, the delegation discussed a host of issues including border area management, improved bilateral military ties and defence cooperation activities as part of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and China, the statement said.
“Both sides agreed to carry forward the directions of the leaders and maintain peace and tranquillity at the border areas. The talks were held in a free, frank and friendly manner,” the statement added.
It was rare for an Indian Army officer to visit the region.
Technically China and Pakistan have no borders but are connected through PoK. The Xinjiang region includes both Ladakh and Aksai Chin over which China has claims.
Xinjiang is the starting point for the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) over which India has protested to China as it passes through the PaK.
Singh’s visit to Xinjiang also assume significance as it comes in the backdrop of India’s move revoking provisions of Article 370 which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcating the state into two Union Territories.
China has said that bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories is “unlawful and void”, and it “challenges” China’s sovereignty.
India has told China that the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter and sole prerogative of the country and has no implication for either the external boundaries of India or the LAC.
The boundary issue is being discussed through the Special Representatives (SR) mechanism. The SRs – National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi – held the 22nd round of border talks in New Delhi last month.
The boundary issue is also being discussed through the Special Representatives (SR) mechanism.
Xinjiang has been in news in recent months over allegations that China has interned more than a million Uighur Muslims to control the violence, a claim Beijing denies. China termed them as education camps.