India — INS Viraat Visit Attests To Strong Oman-India Ties

India’s lone air­craft car­ri­er, INS Viraat, sailed into Port Sul­tan Qaboos here yes­ter­day on it’s maid­en port call — a vis­it that attest­ed to the strate­gic nature of rela­tions between the two friend­ly coun­tries, a top naval offi­cial said.

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Cap­tain Ajen­dra Bahadur Singh, Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of INS Viraat, said the two-day port vis­it engen­dered “deep pride and hon­our” in the rough­ly 1,000-strong com­ple­ment of offi­cers and sailors on board the Indi­an Navy’s flagship.

“It is with a deep sense of hon­our and priv­i­lege that we have come here to Mus­cat,” Capt Singh told jour­nal­ists on the air­craft deck of INS Viraat, flanked by his senior col­leagues as well as pilots of the impres­sive array of fight­er air­craft and heli­copters on board the car­ri­er. “We have a great bilat­er­al rela­tion­ship with the Sul­tanate of Oman. For this very rea­son, this ship is here,” he added. 

INS Viraat is accom­pa­nied by the stealth frigate INS Tal­war and indige­nous­ly built guid­ed mis­sile frigate INS Gan­ga on it’s his­toric vis­it to the Sul­tanate. Dur­ing the two days at berth, all three ships will take on sup­plies of fuel and rations before the trio return to the Indi­an Ocean as part of their cur­rent deployment. 

Com­mis­sioned into the Indi­an Navy on May 12, 1987, INS Viraat oper­ates the short-take-off fight­er air­craft Sea Har­ri­ers with ver­ti­cal land­ing capa­bil­i­ty, and the anti­sub­ma­rine heli­copter Sea King 42B and Chetak heli­copters for search and res­cue purposes. 

For self-defence, the car­ri­er is equipped with an anti-mis­sile defence sys­tem and long-range sur­veil­lance sys­tem inte­grat­ed with a Mar­itime Domain Aware­ness net­work with oth­er fleet ships and shore head­quar­ters. These sur­veil­lance sys­tems and sen­sors of the inte­gral air assets and oth­er screen ships of the for­ma­tion enable INS Viraat to main­tain an enhanced sur­veil­lance bub­ble around the force. 

The Sea Har­ri­er fight­ers are equipped with anti-ship mis­siles (AShM), long-range beyond visu­al range air-to-air mis­siles (AAM), bombs and rock­ets. The Sea King heli­copters are equipped with long-range radar, ESM suite, dunk­ing Sonar and sonobuoys. Arma­ments car­ried by this heli­copter include anti-sub­ma­rine tor­pe­does, depth charges and anti-ship­ping mis­siles (AShM).

The ship is manned by approx­i­mate­ly 140 offi­cers and 1400 sailors and has facil­i­ties and ameni­ties to cater for require­ments of all per­son­nel onboard. 

Accom­pa­ny­ing INS Viraat are frigates INS Tal­war and INS Gan­ga of the Car­ri­er Task Group. While Gan­ga has been indige­nous­ly built, Tal­war was built in Rus­sia accord­ing to Indi­an design require­ments. Both Tal­war and Gan­ga are manned by around 30 offi­cers and 300 sailors each. 

INS Tal­war is fit­ted with long-range air survel­liance radar and cred­i­ble sonar for detec­tion of sub­marines. INS Tal­war car­ries one Air Ear­ly Warn­ing (AEW) heli­copter Kamov 31 as a force mul­ti­pli­er against air threats. The arse­nal on board Tal­war include long-range anti-ship cruise mis­siles, medi­um-range anti-air­craft and anti-mis­sile sur­face-to-air mis­sile (SAM) sys­tem, medi­um-range gun, close-in weapon sys­tem, anti-sub­ma­rine rock­ets and tor­pe­does. Tal­war is being com­mand­ed by Cap­tain S K Chauhan. 

INS Gan­ga is armed with guid­ed mis­siles, medi­um-range gun, anti-mis­sile defence SAM sys­tem, close-in weapon sys­tem, anti-sub­ma­rine tor­pe­does and a state-of-the-art towed array sonar. Gan­ga has been designed to car­ry two Sea King 42B anti-sub­ma­rine heli­copters. The frigate is com­mand­ed by Cap­tain B R Prakash. 

Under­scor­ing the friend­ly nature of the vis­it, INS Viraat will be open to the gen­er­al pub­lic (Oma­n­is and Indi­an nation­als only) from 10 am to 4 pm today. Vis­i­tors are required to car­ry proof of iden­ti­ty when they arrive at the Main Gate of Port Sul­tan Qaboos. Shut­tle bus­es will be avail­able to fer­ry the vis­i­tors from the Jibroo yard to the dock where the car­ri­er is at berth. 


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