- India will hold a major combat exercise with Russia this year.
- The Indra exercise will be held in Russia and will include assets and manpower from the Army, Navy and IAF
- India is planning far-reaching defence reforms to usher in much-needed synergy among the three services.
In the first such tri-Service wargames, India will hold a major combat exercise with Russia this year to crank up military-to-military ties between the two long-standing strategic partners.
"The Indra exercise, to be held in Russia, will include assets and manpower from the Army, Navy and IAF. This is the first time India will deploy the three services together for an exercise with a country," said a defence ministry source.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley, incidentally, will also be visiting Russia in his capacity as the defence minister for the Moscow Conference on International Security on April 25-26.
Though Russia has been India's largest defence supplier for long, notching up military sales worth over $50 billion since the 1960s, their armed forces do not exercise much together.
In sharp contrast, India and US hold a flurry of exercises every year, ranging from the top-notch naval Malabar wargames (with Japan now a regular participant) to the counter-terror Vajra Prahar & Yudh Abhyas Ines between their armies. The US has also bagged Indian arms contracts worth $15 billion since 2007, even overtaking Russia in annual sales over the last four years, as earlier reported by TOI.
But India and Russia have now resolved to expand their military-to-military ties. "The first initial planning conference has already been held with Russia to discuss the exercise scenario, assets and manpower for the tri-Service Indra. Two more such conferences will be held soon to finalise everything," said the source.
The major exercise comes at a time when India is planning far-reaching defence reforms to usher in some much-needed synergy among the three services, with the creation of a chief of defence staff post in the short-term as well as integrated theatre commands in the years ahead.