During the height of the Indo-Pak tensions following the 14 February Pulwama terror attack, the Indian Navy had deployed India’s only aircraft carrier and nuclear submarines in the north Arabian Sea as a strategic deterrent against Pakistan.
The Indian Navy on Sunday said that it deployed aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and its battle group in the northern Arabian Sea. A battle group comprises warships, including frigates and cruiser, which move along with a carrier. INS Vikramaditya carries a complement of MiG 2K fighter jets.
The Navy said that nuclear submarines “along with other assets were also used for operational deployment” during the escalating tensions with Pakistan.
It is noteworthy that Indian currently operates only two nuclear-powered submarines – the indigenously-built INS Arihant and INS Chakra.
“The overwhelming superiority of the Indian Navy in all three dimensions forced Pakistan Navy to remain deployed close to Makran coast and not venture out in the open sea,” the Indian Navy said in a statement.
The Navy specifically mentioned that it was the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) sponsored terrorist attack on the CRPF convoy which led to the rapid redeployment of the Indian Navy for “operations in North Arabian Sea”.
According to reports, the naval assets were redeployed from the TROPEX 19 or Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise – the largest war games of the Indian navy which had commenced on 7 January.
India had sent 60 ships of the Navy, 12 ships of the Indian Coast Guard and 60 aircraft to the TROPEX 19. It is not clear how many of these ships were redeployed to the northern Arabian Sea.
Following the dastardly attack on the convoy, which killed 44 CRPF troopers, India targeted the biggest JeM training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot with an air strike on 26 February. India called the operation a “pre-emptive, non-military action”.
It was the first time since 1971 war that Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets not only crossed the LoC but also took out a terror camp in Pakistani territory.
In a joint press conference by tri-services on 28 February the Indian Navy had stated that it remains deployed to protect National Maritime Interests and prevent any misadventure by Pakistan in the maritime domain.