The maritime component of the exercise, to be conducted off the west coast of India, is scheduled to be held in two phases. The harbour phase is planned in Mumbai from 21-23 October. The exercises at the sea will be conducted from 24-27 October.
The naval linkages between India and the United Kingdom are 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) will be represented by its aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, with her integral F35 fighter aircraft and helicopters, the Type 45 Daring Class air-defence 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) would be 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 will also be participating with integral Sea King 42B, Kamov-31 and Chetak helicopters, MIG 29K fighter aircraft, Dornier and P8i (maritime patrol aircraft) and a submarine. The exercise will also see participation by IAF aircraft that include Jaguars, SU-30 MKI fighters, AWACS, AEW&C and Flight Refuelling Aircraft.
The exercise at sea will feature advanced warfare tactics, anti-submarine warfare exercises, over-the-horizon targeting drills, air defence exercise, cross deck landings and other complex manoeuvres at sea.
The joint phase of the exercise would also include air-tactical operations involving F35Bs, MiG 29Ks and Indian Air Force elements. To facilitate smooth execution of the exercise, the harbour phase will see 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 19 and 20 October 2021. The exercise focused on multiple areas including enhancing aspects of interoperability and exchange of best practices.
The land phase of the exercise is being conducted between Indian Army and UK Army at Chaubatia from 21-27 October under the aegis of Golden Key Division of Surya Command. UK Army is being represented by officers and troops of the 1st Battalion of the Fusilier Regiment and the Indian Army is represented by the troops of 1/11 Gorkha Rifles. The Joint Company Level Exercise between the two nations is aimed at training troops in conduct of Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Operations by coalition forces in an opposed environment.
According to a press note from the three defence services, “The tri-service exercise Konkan Shakti aims to derive mutual benefits from each other’s experiences and 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. The interoperability achieved over the years, as a result of such exercises, has proved to be operationally beneficial to armed forces of both countries.”