India and Oman Eastern Bridge-VI Air Exercise
The Indian Air Force (IAF) and Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) have organised a bilateral air exercise named Eastern Bridge-VI from 21 to 25 February 2022 at Air Force Station Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Eastern Bridge-VI is the sixth edition of the exercise. The exercise will provide an opportunity to enhance a significant focus on operational capability and interoperability between the two Air Forces.
Significance of Exercise
The sixth edition of the Bilateral Exercise 2022 aims at promoting professional interaction, exchanging experiences, and enhancing operational knowledge, besides strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries. The larger objectives laid down for the exercise are to foster closer ties between the forces of both countries and to draw tactical lessons with the progress of the exercise.
Previous Edition of the exercise
The fifth edition i.e. Eastern Bridge V was held in October 2019 at the Air Force Base Masirah, Oman, where IAF contingent comprised MiG-29 and C-17 aircraft. It was the first time that MIG-29 fighter aircraft participated in an International Exercise outside India. (ANI)
What is Oman’s Strategic Significance for India?
- Oman is India’s closest defence partner in the Gulf region and an important anchor for India’s defence and strategic interests. Oman is at the gateway of the Strait of Hormuz through which India imports one-fifth of its oil imports.
- Defence cooperation has emerged as a key pillar for the robust India-Oman strategic partnership. Defence exchanges are guided by a Framework MOU, which was recently renewed in 2021.
- Oman also provides critical operational support to Indian naval deployments in the Arabian sea for anti-piracy missions.
- Oman also actively participates in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).
- India has supplied rifles to Oman. Also, India is considering setting up a defence production unit in Oman.
- In a strategic move to expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean region, India has secured access to the key Port of Duqm in Oman for military use and logistical support.
- This is part of India’s maritime strategy to counter Chinese influence and activities in the region.
- The Port of Duqm is situated on the southeastern seaboard of Oman, overlooking the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
- It is strategically located, in close proximity to the Chabahar port in Iran. With the Assumption Island being developed in Seychelles and Agalega in Mauritius, Duqm fits into India’s proactive maritime security roadmap.
India and Oman other Bilateral Exercises
Oman is the only country in the Gulf region with which all three services of the Indian armed forces conduct regular bilateral exercises and staff talks, enabling close cooperation and trust at the professional level.
- Naseem Al-Bahr is the naval exercise conducted between both the countries.
- AL Nagah is the joint exercise between the armies of two countries.
- Eastern Bridge is the joint exercise between the air forces of two countries.
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