Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Feb 8 (ANI): Stating that 26/11 changed India's security matrix, Defence Minister A.K. Antony has said that the entire nation now acknowledged the critical requirement of maritime security and the important role of the Indian Navy.
Antony, who spent two days with the Indian Navy on Tuesday and Wednesday, was given a glimpse of the expansive scope and scale of the Indian Navy's annual Theatre Level Readiness and Operational Exercise (TROPEX).
He was briefed along with the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral NirmalVerma and the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral AK Chopra in company.
During the two-day naval exercise, two completely networked fleets, widely dispersed across seas in the Indian Ocean, operated in a dense electronic environment, showcasing their professional and technical proficiency.
New platforms, weapons sensors, communication systems and tactics were tested and optimized. Over forty surface combatants of various classes, submarines and a large number of aircraft, including UAVs participated in the exercise.
The exercise had a jointmanship element as IAF aircraft such as AWACS, Sukhois, Mirages and Jaguars also participated.
'No Limits', the motto of INS Shivalik, where the Defence Minister first landed, best described the scale of the naval exercise.
Antony witnessed the INS Shivalik execute various evolutions, including a 'surface gun shoot' and a Jackstay with the INS Shakti in copybook fashion.
The quick integration of new ships was a reflection of the Indian Navy's operational and training professionalism.
Antony also witnessed the navy's future ready network enabled force on a visit to INS Viraat.
Antony witnessed first hand, the potency of the upgraded Sea Harriers, particularly in a networked environment.
The Defence Minister witnessed the successful interception of a fast, low flying, surface-to-surface missile by a SAM. A clear full moon might provided an idyllic setting for this demonstration of power and professionalism.
Antony saw a successful and impressive launch of the Brahmos, supersonic long range anti shipping missile, from a recently upgraded Ranvir class destroyer. This was particularly satisfying as the launch of the missile was an affirmation of India's indigenous weapon capabilities.
Addressing the 'Viraatees', Antony said he was "very very happy to be on India's most prestigious INS Viraat".
"By early next year, the Indian Navy is likely to operate one more aircraft carrier, Vikramaditya, and the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier some years later," he added.
Complimenting the naval officers and ensigns for their professionalism, Antony said: "Wherever we go (abroad), the Indian Navy is the most sought after service. Numerous countries want more cooperation with the Indian Navy."
He also acknowledged the navy's difficult working conditions by saying, "I assure you one by one, we are improving your service conditions and living conditions".
He assured the naval personnel that he would do "whatever is humanly possible" to improve their conditions of service.
Antony said: "The Indian Navy is increasing its capability to meet their ever increasing challenges and responsibility successfully. The country is proud of the capabilities and dedication of the Indian Navy."
"We can be confident that maritime security including coastal security of our country is in the safe hands of the Indian Navy," he added
TROPEX 2012 will continue over the next few days. (ANI)
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