With an eye on China, India and Vietnam to hold First-Ever Joint Naval Exercise

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For the first time, India is going to take part in the naval exercise with Vietnam which will be held next week. The naval exercise is a part of the overall strategy to steadily build military ties with nations in the Asia Pacific region for confrontationist and expansionist China. Also, India’s defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman will visit Hanoi next month.

On Monday, Stealth frigate INS Sahyadri, missile corvette INS Kamorta and fleet tanker INS Shakti will enter the Tien Sa Port. Moreover, the three Indian warships are on operational deployment to South East Asia and North West Pacific region.

Navy spokesperson Captain D K Sharma said, “From May 21 to 25, there will be a professional interaction between personnel of the two navies, official calls, and interaction with dignitaries of the Vietnamese Government. On completion of the harbor phase, warships from the two navies would be undertaking the exercise.”

The two countries share comprehensive strategic partnership, so the defense minister is going to visit Vietnam in June to further bolster bilateral military ties. Following the visit of Sitharaman, the chief of general staff of the Vietnam People’s Army and the commander-in-chief of Vietnam People’s Navy will visit India later this year.

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India and Vietnam are cautious of China’s aggressive tactics in the Asia-Pacific region, especially the controversial South China Sea, and have cranked their bilateral military relations in the last few years. Earlier, PM Narendra Modi had vidivis Hanoi in September 2016 where he announced a new $500 million defense line of credit.

During Indian PM’s visit to Vietnam in September 2016, both the nations decided to lift their “strategic partnership” to “comprehensive strategic partnership” after releasing a “joint vision statement on defense for 2015-2020” in May 2015. BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles and the Akash surface-to-air missile defense systems has also been offered by India to Vietnam.

India has decided to train Vietnamese fighter pilots to fly the Sukhoi-30 fighter jets. As per the early reports of TOL, it has been instructing sailors from that country on the complex art of operating Kilo-class submarines for the past four years.

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In addition to the call of regular ports by warships, the Indian Navy collaborates on a wide range of training for operational interaction and logistics support and exchange of experts with the Vietnam People’s Navy.

India is also increasing defense cooperation from expanding military visits and exercises to training and technology-sharing with countries like Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia.

As for the South China Sea, India has emphasized the need for all the countries to respect the freedom of navigation in international waters, unimpeded commerce, the right of passage and overflight and access to resources in accordance with UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982.