07:42 GMT30 November 2020
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    Dozens of warships, submarines and combat aircraft are taking part in the Indian Navy’s Annual Theater Readiness Operational Exercise (TROPEX) 2017, under way off the country’s western seaboard since January 24. The drill is aimed at testing the Navy’s combat readiness amid the growing activity of Chinese nuclear submarines in the Indian Ocean.

    “China has been building up its naval might since the early 2000s with its nuclear powered submarines conducting regular patrols of 100 days and more as part of Beijing’s strategy of maintaining constant submarine presence in the Indian Ocean,” military expert Vasily Kashin told Sputnik China.

    The Indian Ocean is becoming increasingly important to China's economic and security interests as a strategic waterway which helps keep the country’s economy going.

    Therefore, China’s military presence there will keep growing. However, the struggle for the strategic maritime routes is only one of the reasons for the fast-increasing naval competition between China and India.

    “Both countries are actively building up the naval components of their strategic nuclear forces. Nuclear missile submarines, their bases and patrol areas need maximum protection and China will be making every effort to keep a watchful eye on any foreign fleets venturing into this area,” Kashin continued.

    China’s growing submarine presence in the Indian Ocean is a source of serious concern in Delhi which is now modernizing its anti-submarine forces with the help of Russian-made Il-18 anti-submarine planes and US-supplied P-8 Poseidon patrol planes.

    The TROPEX 2017 exercise involves practicing various anti-submarine warfare scenarios with Indian diesel-electric attack submarines standing in for Chinese and Pakistani submarines.

    “During the current drill the Indian Navy is practicing the search for and tracking of enemy submarines apparently using for this purpose the INS Chakra, an Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine now on lease from Russia, and which is way more advanced than anything the Chinese now have. If the Indian Navy learns to deal with a dangerous adversary like this one, its chances of being able to spot Chinese subs will notably increase,” Vasily Kashin noted.

    He added that India and China were now building up military capability only nuclear superpowers once used to boast. Both want to eventually have full-blown nuclear triads of their own, missile defense and mighty nuclear submarine fleets.

    “That’s why it is so important for China and India to maintain close military contacts, unaffected by political fluctuations. The countries should be able to keep each other informed about their military activity in order to resolve emerging crises and prevent local incidents from degenerating into major catastrophes,” Vasily Kashin said in conclusion.

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