India and Russia concluded the 10th iteration of their Indra joint exercise on November 28. The exercises began on November 19 and took place at India’s Babina Military Station, near Jhansi in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
“Senior military officials of both the countries witnessed a joint tactical exercise conducted at Babina field firing ranges. The contingents of both the countries displayed great enthusiasm and professionalism while practicing joint drills during the conduct of exercise and it was a great learning experience for both the participating Nations,” a press release issued by the Southern Command of Indian Army noted after the conclusion of the exercises.
“During the final stage of the Indra-2018 international drills, the Russian reinforced motorized battalion and the 5th mechanized infantry battalion group of India’s 31st armored division marched to the range at their [full] strength,” the Russian Eastern Military District said of the exercise, according to TASS.
The exercise involved 14 T-90 tanks, 14 BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, and 500 troops, according to Russian reports. The Indian side did not specify the assets involved, but Babina is home to the 31st Indian Armored Division and Russian reports specified that Indian 155 mm Bofors artillery guns and Shilka self-propelled anti-aircraft guns were involved.
“Supported by the Indian 155mm Bofors artillery guns and by the fire of Shilka self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, the armor was deployed in battle formations to deliver a massive strike against the positions of notional terrorists holding the communities seized earlier,” a Russian Eastern Military District press release noted.
“The aim of the exercise is to practice joint planning and conduct to enhance interoperability of the two armies in the peace keeping and enforcement environment under the aegis of United Nations,” an Indian Ministry of Defense statement noted ahead of the exercises.
India is the fourth largest contributor of troops to United Nations peacekeeping efforts, according to UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations data. As of October 31, 6,608 Indian troops were participating in a range of UN peacekeeping missions. Russia, by contrast, has just 78 participating personnel in UN peacekeeping missions.
The Indian Ministry of Defense statement added that this year’s iteration would focus on “training on enhancing team building and tactical level operations in a counter insurgency environment in semi urban terrain.”
India and Russia have long conducted joint military exercises and New Delhi is a major importer of Russian arms.
The exercise concluded ahead of the G-20 summit meeting in Bueno Aires, Argentina, where Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met bilaterally, trilaterally with Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as with the leaders of Brazil and South Africa in the BRICS framework.