In a first, United States military airplane refuels at India’s Port Blair

In an initial, a United States’ long-range maritime patrol airplane refueled at India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands a weekend ago showing the military collaboration between the two nations in the midst of New Delhi’s standoff with China along the border in eastern Ladakh.

The “fully armed” P-8 Poseidon airplane arrived in Port Blair for logistics and refueling support, an individual acquainted with the issue said on Saturday.

The improvement was first revealed by the Times of India on Saturday. It is viewed as critical given that Indian and US navies had participated in a maritime “Passex” exercise in the region around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in July.

The logistics support to a US military airplane denotes a first however India and the US have been providing their maritime vessels with refueling support since the two nations signed a logistics support agreement in 2016. The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) provides India with comparable access to US bases from Djibouti in Africa to Guam in the Pacific.

Four Indian naval ships, including a stealth corvette had then collaborated with USS Nimitz carrier strike group and three different ships in the Eastern Indian Ocean close to the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The USS Nimitz, which is the US Navy’s biggest aircraft carrier, was on its way back from the South China Sea through the Malacca Straits, where it had directed operations in tandem with the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group to help, what Washington called “a free and open Indo-Pacific,” and “an international rules-based order wherein each country can reach its potential without sacrificing national sovereignty.”

China has been flexing its military muscles in the South China Sea, Taiwan Straits and East China Sea. With India, as well, tensions have been intense since May when New Delhi recognized numerous interruptions into Ladakh by the Chinese military.

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