HMS Defender joins forces with Indian ‘stealth ship’ in military exercise in the Channel

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ROYAL Navy warship HMS Defender has joined forces with the Indian Navy as she knuckled down to her Asia-Pacific deployment – in the English Channel.    

The £1bn Type 45 destroyer has met up with INS Tarkash for the two navies’ annual workout: Exercise Konkan, a test of the forces’ ability to work as one in a war zone.

HMS Defender, nearest the camera, with Indian guided-missile frigate Tarkash in the Channel, Aug 14 2019, during Exercise Konkan. An Indian Helix helicopter can be seen approaching Defender's flight deck. Picture: Royal Navy

HMS Defender, nearest the camera, with Indian guided-missile frigate Tarkash in the Channel, Aug 14 2019, during Exercise Konkan. An Indian Helix helicopter can be seen approaching Defender's flight deck. Picture: Royal Navy

Typically the exercise would take place off the the namesake stretch of coastline in India.

But when Delhi dispatches its ships on deployments to western Europe, Britain hosts the exercises on its home turf.

And so on the eve of the 72nd anniversary of Indian independence, Defender – which only left Portsmouth on Monday at the beginning of a mission to the Pacific Rim – linked up with ‘stealth frigate’ INS Tarkash in conditions more British, than Indian summer.

Both vessels are regarded as ‘stealth’ ships – designed to make the minimum impact on a foe’s radar display – with Defender specifically designed to shield a task group from air attack, while the Russian-built Tarkash is a general-purpose frigate bristling with anti-ship/anti-land/anti-air missiles.

A Wildcat helicopter of 815 Naval Air Squadron lashed down on the deck of destroyer HMS Defender in the Channel, August 14 2019. Following Diamond is Indian guided-missile frigate Tarkash, also taking part in Exercise Konkan. Photo: Royal Navy

A Wildcat helicopter of 815 Naval Air Squadron lashed down on the deck of destroyer HMS Defender in the Channel, August 14 2019. Following Diamond is Indian guided-missile frigate Tarkash, also taking part in Exercise Konkan. Photo: Royal Navy

‘It is these regular engagements and opportunities to train with other navies that prove our capability to deliver on operations alongside our allies,’ said Defender’s commanding officer Commander Richard Hewitt.

During their time together, Defender and Tarkash conducted various combined training manoeuvres and serials including involving anti-submarine warfare demonstrations and boarding operations.

The two ships’ helicopters – a Wildcat from Defender, a Helix from the Tarkash – traded places on the respective flight decks, while Indian and British personnel were also encouraged to step into each other’s shoes, with a select few spending several hours experiencing life in a different navy.

‘It was interesting to see how culturally different the ship was, but also lots of similarities to our own ship,’ said communications specialist Engineering Technician Angus Lawrence.

Defender and her 200-strong crew are now heading towards her deployment in the Asia-Pacific.

The 8,200-tonne warship  will take part in maritime security patrols aimed at protecting vital trade routes as part of a long-standing 30-nation maritime force.