The Indian Navy has decided to showcase its capabilities along with the navies of 46 other countries at one of its largest international events, the International Fleet Review (IFR), to be held early in February next year. India will be hosting the event. While Pakistan has declined the invitation to participate in the event, China has expressed its keenness to demonstrate its naval prowess and capabilities.
“The blueprint of the future of Indian Navy is anchored on self-reliance. IFR, in its second edition, will be held from February 4, 2016 to February 8, 2016 at Visakhapatnam,” said India’s Chief of Naval Staff, R. K. Dhowan.
The International fleet review is being held after a gap of nearly 15 years. The first IFR was held in 2001 at Mumbai. While 46 countries have confirmed their participation so far it is expected to cross 50 according to the Indian Navy. “The Chinese Navy has accepted the invite while Pakistan hasn’t given a favourable response so far. As far as participation of China is concerned…from the information available to us from our embassy, the PLA Navy is likely to participate with a ship as well as a delegation,” Mr Dhowan said.
With India and China fighting for strategic space in the Indian Ocean, the participation of China in the exercise will be seen more as a goodwill mission. The hosting of the event in Vizag in the Bay of Bengal is in sync with the Indian government’s ‘Act East Policy’. India shares maritime boundaries with Southeast Asian countries and this exercise would bolster India’s maritime cooperation in the region.
“The depth of the ocean will facilitate the whole event. Most importantly, citing proximity, it will be easy for the seven surrounding littoral nations to send their fleet,” Mr Dhowan said. The event is also expected to give thrust to the government’s ‘make in India’ initiative to strengthen manufacturing in the defence sector and contribute to more employment generation. The exhibition is expected to showcase the indigenisation and innovation.
The IFR aims to develop familiarity and strengthen professional cooperation with navies of other countries, which would help in interacting and cooperating when needed.
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