India, South Asia’s largest military power, will conduct army and air force combat exercises next week before a global audience that will exclude its neighbour Pakistan.
Representatives of as many as 65 countries including China, Sri Lanka, the UK, the US, France and Germany will witness the exercise in Rajasthan that borders Pakistan, said Vijay Narula, a defence ministry spokesman. “There is no such cooperation with” Pakistan, he said.
Pakistan, which fought three wars with India, has been kept out of the war games even as the nuclear-armed neighbours have been rebuilding ties since April 2003, a year after coming close to a fourth conflict. The manoeuvres will be held on 19 March at Pokharan, the site of India’s nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998.
“As part of military confidence-building measures, it will provide opportunities to observers from foreign countries to witness military assets and the capabilities of the Indian armed forces,” A.K. Das, army spokesman, said in New Delhi on Thursday.
In the exercise, dubbed Brazen Chariots, the army will test its missile-firing T-90 tank, an all-weather, air-defence missile system, unmanned aerial vehicles, electronic sensors and surveillance equipment, Das said.
The air force will lend support with fighter aircraft such as the Sukhoi 30, the MiG-27, the MiG-21 and attack helicopters, said P.K. Vohra, an Indian Air Force spokesman.
India is increasing defence spending as neighbouring China, with which it has fought a war, develops its own fighter planes and Pakistan buys military aircraft from the US. India plans to buy planes, helicopters and guns to strengthen its armed forces against possible threats from neighbours.
India, with a $906 billion (Rs36.6 trillion) economy that has averaged 8.7% growth since 2003 and is home to 1.1 billion people, is seeking to establish its position as an emerging power in economic, military and global affairs.
“The exercise has been set to project the manoeuvre warfare doctrine, which has since been promulgated in the Indian armed forces and is seen as a breakaway from the traditional attritionist approach of the army,” the defence ministry said in a release last week.