Seeking to showcase its naval prowess to the world, India will host International Fleet Review (IFR) 2016 in the first week of February in the Indian port city of Visakhapatnam, a global event which will put the spotlight on the Indian Navy’s role as a net security provider in the region.
The IFR 2016 will be held in Visakhapatnam from February 4 -8. It is expected that more than 90 ships, 24 of them foreign, will participate in the event. The main aim of the event is to showcase the growing capabilities of the Indian Navy. President Pranab Mukherjee will review the fleet on February 6 from INS Sumitra, an indigenously built naval offshore vessel that would be the presidential yacht. The Maritime Exhibition and IFR village will be inaugurated by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu.
A function will be held for the visiting chiefs of naval staffs from different countries and for other officials. The event would also have cultural shows and performances that will be held throughout the day in the city. An international maritime conference will be held in which Defence Minister Parrikar will participate on February 7. An operational demonstration and international city parade will also be held on the day in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate.
In the final stages of the review, a mobile column of warships and submarines will steam past the presidential yacht. Many water front activities by sail boats, water skiing, a display by marine commandos and helicopter demonstrations would be a part of the event.
The International fleet review is being held after a gap of nearly 15 years. The first IFR was held in 2001 at Mumbai. The event is also expected to give thrust to the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. With India aiming to strengthen manufacturing in the defence sector, it hopes to contribute to more employment generation. The exhibition is expected to showcase the indigenisation and innovation in India’s defence sector.
Against the backdrop of the development of the Blue Water Navy by China, India has begun to play a more proactive role in the Asia-Pacific. The global IFR event will help India display its capabilities to the world. Despite India and China fighting for strategic space in the Indian Ocean, the participation of China in the exercise is being seen more as a goodwill mission. With India sharing maritime boundaries with Southeast Asian countries, this exercise would bolster India’s maritime cooperation in the region.
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