The Indian Navy flaunted a new landing craft during an amphibious assault exercise held last week. The war games were conducted under the Port Blair-based Andaman and Nicobar Command, the only tri-services command of the Indian Armed Forces.
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The exercise saw the participation of around 300 troops of the Indian Army supported with six BMP amphibious infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), 14 Navy ships along, with two Indian Coast Guard fast-attack craft.
The Andaman and Nicobar Command holds strategic importance for New Delhi as it would allow India to maintain dominance in the Indian Ocean Region, including the Strait of Malacca, a vital shipping channel between the Indian and Pacific oceans.
The command provides logistical and administrative support to the Naval ships on deployment to East Asia and the Pacific Ocean.
This ‘multidimensional’ drill was conducted at Swaraj Dweep (or Swaraj Island), which lies 50 kilometers northeast of the capital city Port Blair.
“The demonstration highlighted the synergy, co-operation, and interoperability between the services towards achieving desired outcomes,” said the Indian Ministry of Defence in a statement on the exercise, quoted by Janes.
While the government remained tightlipped on the naming of Naval and Coast guard vessels, Janes reported that the images showed at least two Mk-IV Landing Craft Utility (LCU) vessels, and Polnochny D-class landing ship, Guldar (L 21).
President Shri #RamNathKovind witnessed Joint Services Operational Demonstration by Andaman & Nicobar Command highlighting multi-dimensional operational capabilities including #amphibious landing of troops by Landing Ship Tank & Landing Craft Utility (1/2) https://t.co/wQHIDBF8O2 pic.twitter.com/oTSldNCdru
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) February 28, 2021
Armed with BMP-derived CRN 91 30mm naval gun, Igla MANPADS, and various heavy and general-purpose machine guns for point defense, the Mk-IV LCUs are meant to transport troops and equipment, including heavy mechanized vehicles like BMPs.
Such vessels have been deployed by the Indian Navy in the past for maritime roles like maritime security, beaching, un-beaching, humanitarian relief operations and evacuation from distant islands, search and rescue operations, and peace-keeping missions.
The exercises are crucial for the Indian Armed Forces’ ambitions to come under unified joint command structures, and experimenting into developing more ways to enhance the cooperation and synergy among the tri-services.
As the Indian forces don’t have a dedicated amphibious attack unit like the US Marines, a division of the Indian Army has been converted into Amphibious Warfare brigades for this dedicated role, namely the 54th Infantry Division headquartered at Secunderabad in Telangana.