The Tatmdaw (military) has been constantly conducting military drills in enhancing defence prowess to safeguard the sovereignty and territory of the State. Last month, the Fleet Exercise 2020 of ’s in the Myanmar territorial waters conducted with the involvement of Russia included the attack submarine Minye Thinkhathu along with other warships.

It was delivered by India as part of growing defence cooperation between the two neighbouring countries and designed by the Rubin Central Maritime Design Bureau, St Petersburg. It is a Kilo Class submarine with a displacement of 3,000 tonnes, a length of 74 metres and a beam of 10 metres. According to Asia Times, the submarine was delivered to Myanmar at the end of 2019. Last year, Indian and Myanmar navies undertook joint exercises IMNEX 2019 in Bay of Bengal.

Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affair India said, “This is in accordance with our vision of SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region, and also in line with our commitment to build capacities and self-reliance in all our neighbouring countries.”

At the event, the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing made his appearance in  the Navy uniform to honour Tatmadaw together with Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Commander-in-Chief (Army) Vice-Senior General Soe Win, Commander-in-Chief (Navy) Admiral Tin Aung San, Commander-in-Chief (Air) General Maung Maung Kyaw, senior military officers of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief and the commander of Yangon Command.

Both the Senior General and party arrived on board the naval vessel Mottama by helicopter, and were welcomed by Commodore Zwe Win Myint, Commander of the Task Force Division leading the fleet and members of the Navy’s Task Force.Later at the Mottama meeting hall, Commodore Zwe Win Myint reported on exercise that began on 12 October, and the Commander-in-Chief (Navy) on the salient points of the submarine and the improvement in the military prowess in conducting an underwater military drill with the participation of a submarine.

Afterwards, the Senior General gave a speech on the review of the Fleet Exercise-2020 to commanding officers and other ranks of naval vessels who took part in it.

“Today is a milestone in the history of Tatmadaw (Navy) as it is a new step towards reaching the Blue Water Navy, which is the goal of the Tatmadaw (Navy). Every country is striving to promote its naval power. To reach this end, it must enhance its naval strength by possessing powerful naval vessels, and the submarine is also included in them”.

He also mentioned that the sailors on board a submarine need stronger mental and physical abilities when compared with personnel of other ships. 

“To be a more modernized navy, a modernized navy must be facilitated with submarines. We have been trying and considering to possess submarines for many decades. Such dreams could not be shaped easily. We tried very hard for the dream to come true”, he recalled.

Globally, the combined warfare technologies are being applied in great nations like the United States, Russia, France and Germany. Although infantry is the main troop on the ground, proof from the First and Second World Wars showed comprehensive warfare of the infantry troops combined with artillery, tank, armoured and air defence forces is more effective in military operations. 

Thus, joint warfare was launched by infantry troops together with paratroops with the aid of air force in some areas during war time. With regard to the naval sector, a single vessel cannot be fighting the enemy, it needs companions. Besides, the aircraft of the air force are flying in groups to fight and high-qualified planes can be refueled in the air. When naval vessels are not sufficient of fuel, they are supplied with fuel and ration from carriers to discharge duty in the sea. And that’s where the combined efforts are made. 

In the October drills, the naval exercise was launched with participation of 12 naval vessels. It was known that Minye Theinkhathu has taken underwater exercises about 100 times. So, it is necessary to thoroughly exercise. The naval corps alone cannot defend the wide water territory completely, and as availability of information is of importance, the wider exercises must be launched. Enemy, natural disaster and factors to cause virus may happen at any time.

It is also known that the submarine has been named Minye Theinkhathu for bravery and adventurous naval battles for its upcoming journey according to the Commander-in-Chief.

Prior to the event, the submarine Minye Theinkhathu had carried out surface and under-water navigations more than 100 times and had successfully fired torpedoes at the target warship on the surface detected by sonar sensors in the Indian Ocean. Helicopters from the Tatmadaw (Air) took part in the naval exercise by conducting aerial patrols, landing on and taking off from Mottama Warship, cross-deck landing on and taking off from Mottama Warship to Frigate Aung Zeya to improve the air-to-surface reconnaissance capability.

“I wish you all great progress and success on such a historic day for our Navy, Tatmadaw and our country”, he concluded.

The Fleet Exercise-2020 featured phase-by-phase electronic warfare drills, anti-submarine warfare drills while warships advancing in formations, drills for defending against air-to-surface missiles, anti aircraft warfare drill to defend the air defence systems, naval warfare drills to destroy enemy warships with surface-to-surface missiles and artillery warfare. Moreover, joint  operation  drills of the submarine  and  warships were also conducted during the naval exercise.

According to the military sources, it is likely to be used initially for training and orientation purposes for the Navy. Last year, India provided ‘Shyena’ advanced light torpedoes to Myanmar as part of a defence deal. During their visit to Myanmar in October last year, Mr. Shringla and General Naravane were also told that Myanmar and Bangladesh have recently engaged in a war of words over heightened military tension near the border at Chittagong regarding the Rohingya issue.

However, India’s military outreach to Myanmar is important as it comes with a backdrop of the ongoing military tension along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh between India and China, a leading industrial and business partner of the Southeast Asian state.