Spanish Navy frigate Blas de Lezo docks in Mumbai
Mumbai, April 29 (IANS) The Spanish Navy frigate Blas de Lezo has docked here on a four-day visit that is being seen as a turning point in the strengthening of relations between the Indian and Spanish navies.
On Wednesday, the second day of the visit, the ship's captain invited defence ministry and Indian Navy officials for an on-board presentation followed by a reception.
What was of special interest to them was the ship's Aegis ballistic missile defence shield system that is being seen in Indian waters for perhaps the first time. Aegis manufacturer Lockheed Martin is hoping to sell the system to the Indian Navy.
While the Aegis system, which can simultaneously engage up to 90 targets, is designed to intercept ballistic missiles both within and outside the atmosphere, it can also be modified to shoot down satellites that have either outlived their capability or have gone off course.
'The visit of the frigate Blas de Lezo represents a turning point in the strengthening of relations between the Spanish and the Indian Naval Forces, and is a significant milestone in bilateral relations between Spain and India,' a statement issued by the vessel's manufacturer Navantia said.
Navantia, in association with the French DCNS, is currently engaged in the construction of the first of six Scorpene submarines at the Mazagon Dock Limited through a transfer of technology and technical assistance contract.
The Blas de Lezo is one of a series of five F-100 class vessels Navantia is building. They are the only European-built combat vessels to be equipped with the Aegis system.
Its sister ship Alvaro de Bazan is the first foreign-built ship equipped with the Aegis system to be fully integrated with a US Navy Carrier Strike Group.
Navantia has also signed a contract with Australia for designing and building three air warfare destroyers based on the F-100 and equipped with the Aegis system.
For Norway, the company is building five F-310 class frigates, a less sophisticated platform than the F-100, but also equipped with the Aegis system. Three of them have been delivered.
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