When the tension between India and Pakistan was in its peak after the Pulwama terror, all the attention was on Indian Air Force, which had shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet, and also lost a MiG-21 jet in the process. Indian Army was also in high alert mode and had engaged in several rounds of exchange of artillery shelling with their Pakistani counterpart. Now it has been disclosed that Indian Navy was also fully deployed along the western coast of the country, and acted as a major deterrent against any aggression from Pakistan.
According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Defence, rapid deployment of Indian Navy was done for operations in North Arabian sea after the Pulwama Attack.
Indian Navy was already participating in the TROPEX 2019 (Theatre Level Readiness and Operational Exercise) at that time, which is an inter-service military exercise of Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. Due to this exercise, Indian Navy assets were present in the Arabian Sea. After the Pulwama attack, the TROPEX 2019 exercise was put on a pause, but now the Navy has revealed that major combat units of the Navy were swiftly transited from exercise to operational deployment mode as the tension between India and Pakistan escalated. This included the Carrier Battle Group led by INS Vikramaditya, nuclear submarines and scores of other battleships, submarines and aircraft of Indian armed forces. The deployment was done in the North Arabian Sea, close to Pakistani coast.
The press release says, “about 60 ships of the Indian Navy, 12 ships of the Indian Coast Guard and 60 aircraft were part of TROPEX 19. Amongst the key attributes of Naval forces are the ‘Versatility’ to change roles, ‘Mobility’ and ‘Poise’. Availability of such a large number of combat ready assets in the theatre of operations for TROPEX 19 allowed the Indian Navy to expeditiously respond to the developing situation in synergy with the three services. The overwhelming superiority of Indian Navy in all three dimensions forced the Pakistan Navy to remain deployed close to the Makran coast and not venture out in the open ocean.”
TROPEX 19 started on January 7 in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This was followed by the largest Coastal Defence Exercise code-named SEA VIGIL’ on 22 Jan and 23 Jan 19 with the participation of all 13 Coastal States and Union Territories along with all maritime stakeholders. On February 26, it was reported that the exercise was put on a ‘tactical pause’, when Indian Air Force bombed terror camps in Pakistan.
Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff will be in Kochi on 18th March to preside over the debriefing of the TROPEX 19 exercise.