The Indian and Russian Armed Forces have commenced the Indra 2019 joint exercise designed to improve interoperability and the relationship between the two nations.

The countries began the tri-services exercise with an opening ceremony at Babina, Uttar Pradesh on 11 December.

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Three naval vessels from the Russian Navy arrived in the Indian state of Goa to participate in the exercise.

Indra 2019 is the second edition of the joint exercise between the armed forces of India and Russia. It will be conducted simultaneously at Pune, Babina and Goa.

Goa will host the naval phase of the exercise until 19 December. The Russian Navy is represented by Viktor Konetsky, Yaroslav Mudry and Elyna ships.

The Indian naval assets taking part in the exercise include guided missile frigate INS Tarkash, fleet support ship INS Aditya, MIG 29 K fighter aircraft, and Dornier 228 and P8I maritime patrol aircraft.

The naval component will comprise two phases. The first harbour phase will be held until 15 December, with the sea phase taking place on 16-19 December.

The sea phase in the Arabian Sea will include air defence drills, visits, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations, surface firings and underway replenishment.

India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement: “The aim of (the) exercise is joint training of troops in counter-terrorism operations under the United Nations mandate. Exercise INDRA-2019 will further cement the long-standing strategic ties between India and Russia.”

As part of the tri-services exercise, India will conduct lectures, conferences, drills and demonstrations focused on anti-terrorism operations.

The two countries will share expertise and experience in the domain.

The MoD added: “The exercise will culminate with a 72-hour validation phase, which will test the skills of soldiers, sailors and airmen in conducting joint operations in a counter-terrorism scenario.”

The validation phase will involve the Indian Army’s Ghatak Platoon. The Indian Air Force will field Mi 17 helicopters, Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, and Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter aircraft.