Dozens of Indian warships, including an aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered submarines, left a massive maritime exercise and were deployed amid simmering tensions with Pakistan, the Navy has confirmed.
INS ‘Vikramaditya,’ a Russian-built aircraft carrier, and a number of nuclear submarines have set sail along with other vessels and aircraft, according to a statement by the Indian military. The move is intended “to prevent, deter and defeat any misadventure by Pakistan in the maritime domain.”
Most of the warships were part of TROPEX 2019, India’s largest war games involving the Navy, Air Force and Army. As tensions mounted between India and Pakistan, they were “swiftly transited from exercise to operational deployment mode,” the military said.
The wordy statement doesn’t say much about the time of the deployment, nor did it mention the names of the submarines in question. There are only two vessels of this class, the INS ‘Chakra,’ an Akula-class attack submarine leased from Russia, and the INS ‘Arihant,’ an indigenous ship carrying up to 12 ballistic missiles.
It is understood that some Indian vessels did go on patrol during the India-Pakistan standoff. On one occasion in March, Islamabad said its Navy had detected an unknown Indian submarine moving at periscope depth close to Pakistani waters. India dismissed the Pakistani report, calling it “propaganda” and “misinformation.”
Both arch rivals were tempted to raise the stakes in the recent conflict over Kashmir, it seems. In the middle of the crisis, India threatened to unleash missiles on terrorist facilities inside Pakistan, which said it would respond with its own strikes “three times over.”
Kashmir, a mountainous region the two neighbors control in part but claim in full, has been at the heart of three India-Pakistan wars since 1947. The countries regularly trade artillery and small arms fire across the heavily militarized Line of Control dividing the two armies.