The Indian Western Naval Fleet’s flagship destroyer, INS KOCHI, landed in Port Al-Jubail, demonstrating the growing defense relations between India and Saudi Arabia. With the start of the harbour phase of the first Naval Exercise between the two nations – ‘AL-MOHED AL-HINDI 2021,’ the ship’s arrival ushers in a new chapter in bilateral defense cooperation.
With Indian Army Head Gen MM Naravane’s visit to Riyadh last December – the first by an Indian service chief – India’s defense and military ties with Saudi Arabia received a considerable boost. On the same trip, Naravane stopped at the United Arab Emirates.
The second phase of the Al-Mohed Al-Hindi exercise began on Monday, and the Indian embassy claimed the drill “heralds a new chapter in bilateral defence cooperation.” Officials from the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, the Border Guards, and the Indian consulate greeted the INS Kochi as it arrived at the port. Al-Mohed Al-Hindi is a series of drills between the two fleets on land and at sea. During its stay in the port of Jubail, the Indian vessel would adhere to all Saudi Covid-19 regulations.
India and Saudi Arabia began planning their maiden naval exercise in 2019, but the Covid-19 epidemic hampered the initiative. The Indian Navy conducted a few modest drills during the epidemic, but preparations for major drills were recently resurrected. Warships from India, Australia, Japan, and the United States — the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’s four members – will participate in the Malabar drill later this month in the Western Pacific.
The Indian Navy’s drills with the UAE and Saudi Arabia come amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf after a drone assault on the tanker MV Mercer Street off the coast of Oman, which killed a British citizen and a Romanian citizen. For the drill with INS Kochi, the UAE sent a guided missile corvette and a Panther helicopter. The two sides conducted tactical manoeuvres, search and rescue operations, and an electronic warfare simulation to improve cooperation.
The drill took place a week after Air Commander Marshal RKS Bhadauria, the chief of the Indian Air Force, visited the UAE. The tour of the INS Kochi, a Kolkata-class stealth-guided missile destroyer developed and built-in India, also allows India to showcase its shipbuilding skills in West Asia. The warship includes a substantial component of indigenous fighting systems and uses innovative stealth design principles.
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It has advanced digital networks, and one of the warship’s most distinguishing features is its high level of indigenization, with most systems supplied from India. The electronic warfare suite and the ship’s stabilizers are two indigenous critical systems on the INS Kochi.