The Indian Navy have conducted missile based exercises in the Arabian Sea despite airspace over the area remaining open for civilian flights.
Local media reports that the Indian Navy had requested closing of airspace for three hours between 12:30 and 3:30pm on Saturday, however it did not detail to to aviation authorities whether this meant IST or GMT. Air Traffic Control in Mumbai assumed it to be GMT as is common in the aviation industry. Consequently, airspace reportedly remained open for three hours after the exercises had begun.
The Navy have reportedly not been forthcoming with information regarding any near misses. Flights on this route usually travel to the Middle East or Europe. The consequences of a missile hit could have been catastrophic according to a former commercial pilot we spoke to.
Mumbai Air Traffic Control general manager Jayant Dasgupta reportedly told the Mumbai Mirror that ‘talks’ would be held soon to ensure that there is no repeat of what happened.
The Indian navy currently operates two Kolkata, three Delhi and five Rajput class guided-missile destroyers. The ships of the Rajput class will be replaced in the near future by the next-generation Visakhapatnam class destroyers which will feature a number of improvements.
The primary objective of the Indian navy is to secure the nation’s maritime borders, India also uses its navy to enhance its international relations through joint exercises, port visits and humanitarian missions, including disaster relief. In recent years, the Indian Navy has undergone rapid modernisation to replace its ageing equipment currently in service, this is often seen as part of “India’s drive” to develop blue-water capabilities and enhance its position in the Indian Ocean region.
India have made dangerous mistakes at sea before, back in 2008 a suspected pirate vessel that was destroyed by the Indian navy near Somalia was actually a Thai fishing trawler that had been hijacked by pirates, a maritime official said Wednesday.
Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, said one Thai crew member died when the Indian frigate INS Tabar accidentally fired on the boat in the Gulf of Aden.