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Business News/ News / World/  India, Indonesia likely to expand ties in air force
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India, Indonesia likely to expand ties in air force

India has also helped improve defence capabilities among key Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam. New Delhi has provided high-speed patrol boats to Vietnam, built on Indian Lines of Credit (LoC).

Air force-level ties between the two countries have remained underdeveloped, although naval ties are strong: both countries regularly conduct the Garuda Shakti special forces exercise and CORPAT naval patrol exercises (AP)Premium
Air force-level ties between the two countries have remained underdeveloped, although naval ties are strong: both countries regularly conduct the Garuda Shakti special forces exercise and CORPAT naval patrol exercises (AP)

New Delhi: India and Indonesia are seeking to boost cooperation between their air forces, according to persons aware of the matter.

Air force-level ties between the two countries have remained underdeveloped, although naval ties are strong: both countries regularly conduct the Garuda Shakti special forces exercise and CORPAT naval patrol exercises. Last Sunday, the two navies also kicked off a six-day Samudra Shakti exercise in Batam, Indonesia.

However, no regular bilateral air exercises are held between the two powers. A push to change that may be militarily significant, given India’s increased defence outreach to Southeast Asia.

“Indonesia is an archipelago with thousands of scattered islands. Therefore, maritime connectivity and maritime cooperation has been the focus for the country. If you look at the country’s defence modernization, the focus is firstly on the navy, then the army and finally the air force," says Premesha Saha of the Observer Research Foundation’s Strategic Studies Programme. Because of Indonesia’s maritime focus, developing air force and army cooperation has been less of a priority, Saha said.

Periodic attempts have been made to strengthen air force level ties. “In terms of military cooperation, we have coordinated patrols in the Andaman Sea, that have been going on for at least the past 17 years. We have army-to-army exercises, navy-to-navy, and soon we will start air force-to-air force," said Sidharto Reza Suryodipuro, former Indonesian Ambassador to India in 2021. However, no regular bilateral air force exercise was set up.

Saha said the focus of the defence partnership may be on shared challenges such as maritime piracy, grey-zone activities and Illegal fishing.

Greater interoperability, achieved through staff level talks and joint exercises, is a key component in India’s quest to boost defence preparedness. India and Southeast Asian nations held their inaugural joint naval exercise this year.

However, no movement has taken place on this front just yet. As the military threat from China has grown in recent years, India and Southeast Asian countries have deepened their defence partnership. Sales of military equipment, including the sale of the BrahMos missile to the Philippines, have been a key part of India’s defence outreach. India is also in talks to sell the BrahMos missile to Indonesia, according to the persons cited above.

India has also helped improve defence capabilities among key Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam. New Delhi has provided high-speed patrol boats to Vietnam, built on Indian Lines of Credit (LoC).

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Published: 15 May 2023, 11:15 PM IST
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