WASHINGTON — The Indian armed forces and the United States Navy teamed up to conduct integrated sea and air engagements near the Indian coast on June 23 and 24.

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group participated in joint multi-domain engagements with the Indian Navy and Air Force, according to a press release.

These engagements are designed to build on the high-caliber integration achieved during the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group engagement in March 2021.

“Our nations share a common interest in a secure Indo-Pacific,” said Rear Admiral Will Pennington, commander, Carrier Strike Group 5/Task Force 70.

“Working collectively with like-minded nations to provide full-spectrum awareness and defense of the vast Indian Ocean expanse ensures stability in the region.”

According to the release, the integration of Indian forces sharpens the regional maritime security construct to uphold a rules-based maritime order in the Indian Ocean Region.

Indian participating forces include a Kolkata-class guided-missile destroyer INS Kochi (D 64), a Talwar-class frigate INS Teg (F 45), a P-8I maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, MiG-29K fighters from the Indian Navy Air Squadron 303, and Su-30 fighter aircraft from the Indian Air Force 222 Squadron.

“Flying with our counterparts from the Indian Navy and Air Force has been a great opportunity for the aircrew assigned to CTF 70, providing challenging airborne scenarios necessary for building the confidence to operate effectively together within the Indo-Pacific region,” said Commander Daniel O’Hara, commanding officer, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102.

“We developed critical relationships that we hope to renew shortly with a shared and continued focus on multi-national interoperability and the highest levels of professional airmanship.”

The events included an anti-submarine exercise, aerial exercises like dissimilar aircraft combat training, detect-to-engage sequence, helicopter cross-decking, and formation maneuvering.

The series of at-sea exercises reinforced the converging maritime interests of the United States and India, coming on the heels of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Indian Minister of External Affairs, Subramanyam Jaishankar’s meeting at the Pentagon in May as part of India’s first cabinet-level visit to Washington, DC, during the Biden-Harris administration, as per the release.

Austin visited India during his first international trip in March, highlighting the importance that the Department of Defense places on this strategic partnership.

The strike group is committed to upholding US security agreements with regional allies and partners, demonstrating the capability of forward-deployed naval forces to respond across the region quickly.

CSG 5 includes the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the embarked staffs of Task Force 70 and Destroyer Squadron 15, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh, and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey, as well as aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 5.

India-U.S. bilateral relations have developed into a “global strategic partnership,” based on shared democratic values and increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional, and global issues. Regular exchange of high-level political visits has provided sustained momentum to bilateral cooperation.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Saptak Datta)

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