09/23/2015: The inaugural bilateral maritime exercise between India and Australia, AUSINDEX15, was held in Visakhapatnam, India between 12 – 20 Sep 2015.
Three Royal Australian Navy platforms and a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C made the passage to India for the exercise.
HMA Ships Sirius and Arunta and submarine Sheean exercised with Indian Navy Ships Shivalik, Ranvijayi and Shakti, along with a P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft during the week-long activity.
The exercise commenced with a harbor phase involving briefings and practical demonstrations ashore, before progressing to sea for various surface, anti-submarine and air warfare exercises. As recently announced by respective Defence Ministers, AUSINDEX will now be held every two years.
Credit: Australian Ministry of Defence:9/21/15
AUSINDEX should also be seen more broadly as one sign of growing defense ties between Australia and India. While Canberra and New Delhi have participated in multilateral exercises before, including Malabar exercises in 2007 and Milan exercises in 2012, AUSINDEX is the first bilateral maritime exercise between the two nations.
Australia’s defense minister, Kevin Andrews, is also in India for a series of high-level meetings this week in a boost for the relationship. This is the first meeting between the two countries’ defense ministers since the release of a new framework for security cooperation inked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart following the former’s visit to Australia in November 2014. Regarding his visit to India, Andrewssaid that he looked forward to “identifying a range of new ideas to increase our existing defense cooperation.”
Speaking more specifically about AUSINDEX, Andrews described it as “a strong signal of both countries’ commitment to building defense relations.”
AUSINDEX will be followed by Exercise MALABAR in October, which originally began as a U.S.-India bilateral exercise back in 1992. As I have written before, Malabar has been at the center of an ongoing conversation about expanding arrangements in the Asia-Pacific, amid growing trilateral cooperation of various sorts including between India, Australia, and Japan