Amid Maldives Crisis, Indian Army, Navy and Air Force begins joint Exercise in Arabian Sea

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Amid Maldives Crisis, Indian Army, Navy and Air Force begins joint Exercise in Arabian Sea
A joint exercise of the army, the navy and the air force has begun in the Arabian Sea this week even as China and the Maldives have warned against threats of military intervention in the archipelago following the declaration of a state of emergency by President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Exercise ‘Paschim Lehar’, led by the Western Naval Command, involves the participation of more than 40 warships, submarines and aircraft. The waters around the Maldives are in the western naval command’s operational area of responsibility.

This is the second edition of Exercise Paschim Lehar (XPL). It follows the first that was concluded only three months back in November.

“The amphibious capabilities of the armed forces, along with the elements of Army Amphibious Brigade will also be deployed and tested for operational tasking during the exercise,” navy sources said.

The Army Amphibious Brigade is usually based in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. It has been deployed to the west coast for the exercise. Amphibious exercises involve offensive drills that require the landing of soldiers from flat-bottomed vessels on coasts without having to dock in a port.

“The exercise includes a number of weapon firings, including missile, gun and torpedo firings during the initial phase. The second phase is structured to validate and refine the operational plans of the Western Naval Command,” said the sources.

Last week, the navy ended an exercise called ENCORE that was led by the Visakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command. Among the annual exercises conducted by the navy was the Tropex. But this year onwards the navy had decided to conduct separate exercises on the eastern and western seaboards. The Eastern Naval Command Theatre Level Readiness Exercise (ENCORE) also involved more than 40 ships and submarines, including those from the western fleet and the Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC).

The current edition of Exercise Paschim Lehar (XPL) would also see the involvement of the Indian Air Force and the Coast Guard. The IAF has squadrons of Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft that are tasked with a maritime role based in Gujarat.

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