The Indo-Rusian defence coperation received a major inspiration with Exercise Indra-2017, the first ever tri-services joint exercise between Indian and Russian Armed Forces which was conducted in the Eastern Military District of Russia from October 19 to 29, 2017. Exercise Indra in its previous nine avatars has been conducted as a single service exercise alternately between the two countries. The year 2017 marks a major milestone as this exercise has been upgraded to involve all the three services of the armed forces (Army, Navy and Air Force), which further accentuates the importance of joint services in the present world environment.
Exercise Indra 2017, the first tri-service exercise between India and Russia, in its final phase, showed the Task Force comprising of armoured, mechanised infantry and infantry elements, ably supported by fighter aircrafts and armed helicopters successfully extricating a humanitarian aid convoy from a terrorist attack. A terrorist attack on a humanitarian aid convoy was simulated as per the exercise setting. The humanitarian assistance was depicted for trapped civilians in a counter insurgency environment under UN mandate. The attack tested the response mechanism of the combined task force of Indian and Russian defence forces. The terrorists were successfully isolated and the humanitarian aid convoy was escorted to safety. Simultaneously, fighter aircraft and armed helicopters pulverized the target in an exceptional display of firepower while artillery elements comprising of 122mm, BM21, GRAD and howitzers further softened the target. Tanks closed in on the target along with mechanised infantry elements and cordoned off the entire area, and the stage was set for the infantry to launch the final assault.
Later, speaking to the media, Major General N.D. Prasad, the Task Force Commander of the Indian contingent expressed his happiness at the professional synergy displayed during the entire exercise not only between the air force, navy and the army elements of the Indian defence forces, but also between the Indian and Russian defence forces, in spite of language constraints. He stated that the manner in which the exercise was conducted between India and Russia is a reflection of the high level of professionalism of both sides and that the exercise has proved to be a great learning ground. Rear Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, the Naval Component Leader and Air Commodore R.G.K. Kapoor, the Air Force Component Leader reiterated that the synergy on display between the three services of both sides has reinforced the importance of tri-service cooperation and is the harbinger of things to come in future operations.
The last drill of Exercise Indra-2017 was carried out on October 28, 2017 when the amphibious landing took place at Cape of Klerk training area, undertaken by Indian and Russian naval elements with air support. The active sea phase of naval component commenced on October 26 in the Sea of Japan and personnel of both the countries were put through various tactical and operational manoeuvres. They displayed high levels of professionalism and the exercise generated an outstanding level of professional synergy and understanding of each other’s doctrines, concepts and methodology of execution of operations.
The Air Force component undertook various practice missions by combined Indo-Russian crew in fighters, transport and helicopters during the training phase. These aircraft formed an integral part in the Joint Ops that were undertaken and also provided air support for the amphibious landing mission.The exercise culminated on 29th October in a grand closing ceremony which will be held at Vladivostok.
After intense and exacting military training, the joint exercise concluded with a closing ceremony, wherein both the contingents showcased their immense talents with unique traditional touches. It was witnessed by senior officials and dignitaries of both countries including Ambassador of India to the Russian Federation, Pankaj Saran. Personnel from the Indian as well as Russian contingents were awarded medals of excellence for their outstanding performance during the exercise. Fighters and Helicopters co-piloted by Indian and Russian pilots took part in the flypast along with an Indian Air Force Il-76 aircraft.
The exercise also provided an opportunity to both the armies for greater cultural understanding, sharing experiences and strengthening mutual trust and cooperation. Participants from both the armed forces expressed immense satisfaction at the conclusion of the training, in terms of the standards achieved in the validation phase of the training.