India has launched a major show of force operation following soaring tensions with Pakistan last month due to the Feb. 27 incident wherein Indian jets conducted anti-terror operations in Pakistani airspace, resulting in a downed Indian pilot. The details of what's being described as India's largest war games — called TROPEX 2019 — which combined Navy, Air Force and Army assets were revealed this weekend only upon the exercises' completion.
The drills involving some 60 ships and an equal number of aircraft had been slated to run from January to early March, but according to reports quickly turned into a real time operational situation following the crisis over Kashmir. Notably, the games which had already been underway at the time of the crisis had involved the INS ‘Vikramaditya,’ a Russian-built aircraft carrier, and multiple other nuclear submarines essentially becoming "active" as the situation unfolded.
According to Indian military statements the continued deployment of the vessels is intended “to prevent, deter and defeat any misadventure by Pakistan in the maritime domain.”
Indian Navy statements further confirmed that the warships which had been part of the TROPEX 2019 exercises had “swiftly transited from exercise to operational deployment mode.”
Their continued operational deployment in the Arabian Sea and beyond in the Indian Ocean threatens to bring tensions further to a head between Islamabad and New Delhi following recent revelations that each side had informed the other of missile launch preparations last month, nearly stoking an all out war.
Bellicose weekend statements from India's military could further spark renewed brinkmanship:
The Indian Navy's overwhelming superiority in all three dimensions - surface, under the sea and in the air - forces the Pakistan Navy to remain deployed close to the Makran coast and not venture out in the open ocean after the Pulwama terror attack," said Navy spokesperson Captain D K Sharma on Sunday.
Admiral Sunil Lanba CNS to preside over the debrief of Exercise TROPEX 2019, the largest biennial exercise of #IndianNavy at Kochi tomorrow (representative pics) @SpokespersonMoD @DefenceMinIndia @adgpi @IndiaCoastGuard @IAF_MCC pic.twitter.com/hOYcSLgNVp— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) March 17, 2019
In response to the Pulwama terror bombing India had launched a “non-military, pre-emptive action” against the Islamist group responsible for the killing of 40 Indian military police, Jaish-e-Muhammed, claiming that since Pakistan refused to root out terrorists on its own soil, India would take action.
India's ballistic missile-armed submarine, INS Arihant, was fully operational and deployed at the height of the standoff between India and Pakistan after the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama on February 14 in which 40 CRPF soliders were killed. — India's NDTV
Previously in March Pakistan claimed to have spotted an Indian submarine operating at periscope depth close to Pakistani waters, which India had dismissed at the time as "propaganda".
Indian officials have given a public "debriefing" of the TROPEX 2019 exercises on Monday presumably as part of continued war propaganda to scare off any potential Pakistani aggression. This comes after over a week ago Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said the country was ready for war and its army would respond if attacked by India or “any superpower” during a speech in southeast Pakistan's Chachro town.
“If someone, if it is India or any superpower, wishes to enslave the Pakistani nation, I want to make it clear that my nation and I will fight until the last breath to save our independence,” he said. “Keep in mind; you will receive a befitting response from here.”