An Indian Navy Dornier maritime patrol aircraft and an Indian Air Force (IAF) C-130 transport aircraft visited Australia’s Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI) in the Southern Indian Ocean, close to Indonesia, to broaden the strategic reach of the Indian military and improve interoperability with Australia.
The Indian military may find Cocos to be a valuable station for operational turnaround and refuelling once the runway there is enlarged to accommodate large aircraft such as the P-8 long-range maritime patrol aircraft.
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The Cocos Islands had been a site of collaboration between the two nations’ space agencies for India’s Gaganyaan human space flight mission even before the Indian military arrived there. Australia’s active assistance in setting up a temporary ground station at CKI for the Gaganyaan missions, as well as possible collaboration opportunities in the fields of earth observation, satellite navigation, situational awareness in space, and weather and climate studies using satellite data.
With cross-deployed P-8 aircraft, India and Australia have also been conducting anti-submarine warfare training exercises. The fourth version of this event took place during the first week of July, with an Australian Air Force P-8A being stationed in Tamil Nadu’s I.N.S. Rajali Naval Air Station.
CKI is an Australian external territory that consists of two coral atolls made up of 27 smaller islands. It is situated in the Indian Ocean, about 3,000 kilometres north-west of Perth in western Australia.
In August 2021, the two Navies signed the “Joint Guidelines for the India – Australia Navy to Navy Partnership” document. India and Australia also signed a Mutual Logistics Support pact in 2020.
This year, Australia will host the Malabar multilateral naval exercise for the first time, which will involve participation from India, Australia, Japan, and the United States.
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