India and Singapore hold joint naval exercises in South China Sea

The 2019 'Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise' held May 19-22

(Photo from Indian Navy Twitter acct.)

(Photo from Indian Navy Twitter acct.)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The annual Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX), held in the South China Sea began on Sunday (May 19).

Participating in this year’s exercises are the Indian Navy vessels: the INS Kolkata, a missile destroyer, and the INS Shakti tanker vessel along with Poseidon-8I maritime patrol aircraft.

The Singaporean Navy is represented by the RSS Steadfast, a Lafayette class frigate, and the RSS Valiant, a Victory class corvette. They are accompanied by a number of F-50 and F-16 fighter jets.

The SIMBEX drills are scheduled to continue through Wednesday (May 22). They are designed to simulate “maritime combat exercises such as firing on aerial, and surface targets, advanced aerial tracking, coordinated targeting exercises and tactical exercises on surface, and air scenarios," according to a statement from the Indian Navy.

According to Economic Times, the exercises have developed from simple anti-submarine exercises and are now an important annual exercise to enhance inter-operability between naval forces as both countries face common concerns in the South China Sea.

In early May, the INS Kolkata and the INS Shakti also participated in a joint naval tour of the South China Sea with naval vessels from the United States, the Philippines, and Japan.