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Oman, India take part in joint air force drills

Indian and Omani Air Forces' F-16 fighter jets seen during the Eastern Bridge VI joint training exercise on February 2022 in Oman [Twitter / @IAF_MCC]
Indian and Omani Air Forces' F-16 fighter jets seen during the Eastern Bridge VI joint training exercise on February 2022 in Oman [Twitter / @IAF_MCC]

Oman and India have started a joint air combat exercise, amid growing bilateral relations between the two countries.

The five-day "Eastern Bridge-VI" drill kicked off yesterday at India's Jodhpur Air Force station and will involve India's Sukhoi-30MKIs Jaguars and Mirage-2000s while Oman's Royal Air Force deployed its F-16s.

The Indian Air Force said the sixth edition of the exercise will "provide an opportunity to enhance operational capability and interoperability between the two air forces".

Eastern Bridge-VI comes less than a month after the sultanate's top defence officials, including the Commander of the Royal Navy, Rear Admiral Saif Bin Nasser Al-Rahbi, visited India to discuss mutual interests and ways to boost defence cooperation.

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The visit itself came days after the two countries agreed to develop military ties during the 11th Joint Military Cooperation Committee meeting in New Delhi, which was co-chaired by the Secretary-General of the Omani Defence Ministry, Mohamed Nasser Al-Zaabi, and India's Defence Secretary, Ajay Kumar.

Oman is India's closest defence partner in the Gulf and is the only country in the region with which all three services of India's armed forces conduct regular bilateral exercises. The sultanate provides operational support to the Indian Navy during anti-piracy missions in the Arabian Sea.

The sultanate's Duqm port is also of strategic importance to India in countering China's growing influence and presence in the Indian Ocean. India was granted access to the port following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 2018 visit to Muscat.

 Read: Oman, France sign maritime security deal

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