The maiden India – UK Joint Tri-Service exercise Konkan Shakti was scheduled in India between October 21-27, 2021.
The maritime component of the exercise, to be conducted off the west coast of India, was held in two phases. The harbour phase at Mumbai from October 21-23, 2021, while at sea, the exercises were conducted from October 24-27, 2021. The naval linkages between India and the United Kingdom is one of antiquity and, over a period, it has grown substantially in terms of interoperability and synergy. Over decades now, both navies have undertaken bilateral exercises, exchanges and enhanced their technical cooperation. Rightly so, this has formed the basis for the maiden tri-service bilateral exercise, ‘Konkan Shakti-21’.
Royal Navy (RN) was represented by its aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, with her integral F-35 fighter aircraft and helicopters, the Type 45 Daring Class airdefence destroyer HMS Defender, the Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Fort Victoria, and a Royal Netherland Navy Frigate HNLMS Evertsen. The Indian Navy (IN) was represented by three of its indigenously built stealth guided missile destroyers INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Chennai, two stealth frigates, INS Talwar and INS Teg, and the tanker INS Aditya. The IN also participated with integral Sea King 42B, Kamov-31 and Chetak helicopters, MiG-29K fighter aircraft, Dornier and P-8I (maritime patrol aircraft) and a submarine. The exercise also saw participation by IAF aircraft that include Jaguars, Su-30 MKI fighters, AWACS, AEW&C and Flight Refueling Aircraft.
The exercise at sea featured advanced warfare tactics, Anti-Submarine Warfare exercises, over-the-horizon targeting drills, Air Defence Exercise, Cross Deck landings and other complex manoeuvers at sea. To facilitate smooth execution of the exercise, the harbour phase saw active interaction between planners of both navies, exchange of information by respective subject matter experts, and interaction of personnel participating in the exercise. Earlier, the Indian Air Force participated in an operational engagement with the UK CSG on October 19 and 20, 2021. The exercise focused on multiple areas including enhancing aspects of interoperability and exchange of best practices.
The land phase of the exercise was conducted between Indian Army and UK Army at Chaubatia from October 21-27, 2021. The tri-service exercise Konkan Shakti aims to derive mutual benefits from each other’s experiences and also showcase the continuing cooperation between the two countries. Maritime cooperation is a distinguishable symbol of the commitment of both nations in ensuring a positive climate at sea for enhancing strategic stability and promoting global economic prosperity.