Russian and Indian forces will participate in a major military exercise beginning this week that will feature personnel from the army, navy and air forces.

The drills are the 2017 iteration of the annual Indo-Russian Indra exercises, though this year is a first for the involvement of all three service branches.

“The year 2017 marks a major milestone as this exercise has been upgraded to involve all the three services of the armed Forces (Army, Navy, & Air Force), which further accentuates the importance of joint services in the present world environment,” said an Indian Ministry of Defense statement.

“Exercise INDRA-2017 will be conducted at the 249th Combined Army Range Sergeevisky and in the Sea of Japan near Vladivostok. The Indian contingent will comprise of 350 personnel from Army, 80 from Air Force, two IL 76 aircraft, and one Frigate and Corvette each from the Navy,” the Indian MoD states. “The Russian Federation Armed Forces will be represented by approximately 1000 troops of the 5th Army, Marines and Ships of Pacific Fleet, and aircraft from Eastern Military District.”

Since beginning in 2003, the Indo-Russian Indra exercises have involved primarily naval and ground forces, so the air element appears to be an upgrade.

Analyst comment: For its part, India seeks better inter-military operability with countries large and small, according to its most recent Joint Armed Forces Doctrine. For Moscow, the integration is likely as economic as it is strategic; India represents a large market for military hardware. In addition, by cooperating with India, Moscow can use New Delhi as a hedge against Beijing and/or Washington, whichever is more convenient at the time.

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