NEW DELHI: The 1.13-million strong Indian Army is gearing up for joint combat exercises with the American and Russian armies, among others, in quick succession to further enhance "interoperability" withthem from August to October.
That's not all. India is also going to hold a military exercise with another big power, China, in the coming months. New Delhi and Beijing are now drawing up schedule for the third edition of their "hand-in-hand" (HiH) exercise, sources say.
Interestingly, the focus of all the three exercises will revolve more around counter-terrorism rather than conventional warfare, underlining the threat irregular warfare has assumed for the world at large.
The Indo-US combat exercise `Vajra Prahar' between the special forces of the two countries will be held at the Belgaum commando school in Karnataka between August and September, while the one with Russia called `Indra' is slated for Chaubatia near Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, from September to October.
While, India has had a long-standing defence relationship with Russia, notching up as it has military imports worth almost $40 billion from Moscow since the 1960s, joint combat exercises between the two have been few and far between.
Conversely, the most visible symbol of the now expansive Indo-US military ties has been the flurry of joint combat exercises -- over 50 in the last seven years -- between the two nations. Incidentally, India had hosted the largest-ever ground combat exercise with US, called `Yudh Abhyas', at Babina in October.
The US, of course, is now also aggressively cornering a major chunk of the lucrative Indian defence market. The largest-ever Indo-US defence deal -- the procurement of 10 C-17 Globemaster-III giant strategic airlift aircraft for IAF for around $3 billion -- is now on the verge of finalisation, as reported by TOI earlier. This deal will overtake the $2.1 billion contract for eight Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft inked last year.
In sharp contrast to US and Russia, India's HiH exercises with China have so far been largely symbolic in nature, with just over 100 soldiers participating from each side. But they are seen to be an important CBM between the two countries which fought a bloody war in 1962.
While the first HiH was conducted at Kunming in China in December 2007, the second one was conducted at Belgaum in December 2008. The third HiH edition will be held in China.
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