The biggest military draw is happening on the eastern coast of India. It is the country’s second International Fleet Review (IFR) and ships from 50 countries are lining up with their naval contingents for a grand display of camaraderie in an increasingly complex environment.
So this time there are almost double that number signalling India’s growing influence both on the seas and in diplomatic circles.
President Pranab Mukherjee, the supreme commander of the armed forces, will be reviewing the fleet on Saturday, February 6.
He will be boarding the INS Sumitra commanded by Commander Milind Mohan Mokashi who was conferred the Ashok Chakra last year for a daring rescue mission of stranded Indians and people of other nationalities from war torn Yemen.
INS Sumitra has been converted into a yacht for the purpose. She will take the President through the review columns as each ship, flying their full regalia, will salute him.
Indian naval ships preparing for the IFR 2016. @SpokesersonMoD
K.R. Deepak/The Hindu
There will also be a ‘Make in India’ exhibition to showcase “innovation, indigenisation and potential of the youth”.
The Indian Navy aims at 100 per cent indigenisation in its 15-year plan released last year.
Indian Navys Sindhughosh-class submarines at Vishakhapatnam. C.V. Subrahmanyam
China is learnt to have sent one ship and a delegation to the IFR 2016. Though Pakistan was invited, it declined to participate.
Indian Navy’s Marine commandos paradrop in a simulated war scenario. K.R. Deepak/The Hindu
Among the major attractions will be a flypast led by Rear Admiral P.K. Bahl, Flag Officer Naval Aviation and comprising 15 formations of 45 aircraft.
The display will showcase navy’s latest acquisitions such as the carrier-borne MIG 29K strike fighter, the P8I long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft and the KM-31 AEW helicopter.
Indian Navy’s Boeing P8i escorted by MiG29K fighter jets of the Navy during a rehearsal. K.R. Deepak/The Hindu
A file photo of INS Viraat.
The IFR 2016 is being held from Feb 4-8.