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The Indian Navy has postponed the Milan 2020 exercise in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak that has affected 84 countries and has killed more than 3,200 people.

The multilateral exercise was scheduled to be held from 18 to 28 March this year. The drill was poised to become one of the biggest maritime exercises organised by the Indian Navy involving naval forces from around 30 countries.

Naval spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal told The Times of India: “Milan 2020, which was to be held from March 18 to 28, has been postponed, taking into consideration the safety of all participants and travel restrictions imposed by the spread of Covid-19.

“Milan had generated a very enthusiastic response, with navies around the world having expressed their desire to participate. The Indian Navy looks forward toward scheduling Milan at a later convenient date.”

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With the theme of ‘Synergy Across the Seas’, MILAN 2020 was devised to improve professional interaction among friendly foreign navies.

The exercise was also intended to help the naval forces leverage each other’s strengths to hone their skills. It would have also provided an opportunity for the forces to interact with each other in areas of mutual interest.

Recently, India signed an agreement with the US to procure MH-60R Seahawk multi-mission helicopters for the navy.

The $2.12bn deal involves the delivery of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. Deliveries are slated to begin next year.