As part of the continuing upward trajectory in growing defence ties with the Gulf countries, India is conducting its first-ever naval exercise with Saudi Arabia called “Al-Mohed Al-Hind”.
Earlier this week, Guided-missile destroyer INS Kochi, the flagship destroyer of Indian Western Naval Fleet, with its two integral Sea King-42B helicopters, arrived at Port Al Jubail during its Persian Gulf deployment.
Further, Flag officer commanding India’s western fleet, Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, held discussions with Saudi Eastern Fleet commander, Rear Admiral on bilateral defense cooperation aspects and ongoing first Naval Exercise. Besides, an exchange of Mementos was undertaken at the Fleet Headquarters.
‘Al-Mohed Al-Hindi 2021’ comprises a number of shores and sea-based exercises between the two friendly Navies. On its arrival at the Jubail port, INS Kochi was given a warm welcome by officials of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, Border Guards and the Indian Embassy.
India’s defence and military ties with Saudi Arabia have received a major boost with Indian Army chief Gen MM Naravane’s visit to Riyadh – the first such trip by an Indian service chief in December last year. Naravane had also visited the UAE on the same tour.
The visit by the INS Kochi heralds a new chapter in the bilateral military ties with the commencement of the harbour phase of first Naval Exercise between both the nations.
Harbour phase of the exercise
The Harbour phase of the Al-Mohed Al-Hindi 2021 exercise commenced on August 9, 2021 and Sea-based drills and maritime exercises started from August 11.
Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kochi is the second ship of Kolkata-class stealth guided-missile destroyers, which was built by the Indian Navy under the code name Project 15A. The ship was constructed by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) in Mumbai and came into service in September 2015. This ship is termed as a ‘Network of Networks’ since it is equipped with sophisticated digital networks, an array of state-of-art weapons and sensors that can neutralise any maritime threat.
‘Zayed Talwar’ drill with the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Last week, INS Kochi conducted a joint naval exercise with the UAE Navy, “Zayed Talwar”, off the coast of Abu Dhabi. UAE had deployed a Baynunah-class guided-missile corvette, along with helicopters, for the exercise on August 7.
The exercise demonstrated tactical maneuvers, over-the-horizon targeting, and electronic warfare operations. The exercises came in the aftermath of IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria’s visit to UAE and Israel earlier this month to foster bilateral military ties with the two countries.