Panaji: A Tri-services exercise being conducted jointly by the Indian and Russian navies off Goa, will further strengthen relations between the two armed forces and enable them to undertake joint operations in a cohesive manner to address common challenges, a press statement issued by the two navies said on Friday.

Russian Federation Navy ships Yaroslav Mudny, Viktor Konetsky and Elyna along with Indian Navy vessels INS Aditya, INS Tarkash, MiG-29K fighter aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft and ship-borne helicopters are participating in the 10-day tri-services exercise which kicked off in Goa on December 10.

"Indian Navy and the Russian Navy share strong bonds of military and technical co-operation. The Baltic fleet with its headquarters in Kalinigrad region, has illustrious partnership with the Indian Navy.

"The Western Fleet which is the sword arm of the Indian Navy comprises several cutting edge warships of Russian origin built at the Baltic shipyard ''Yantar''," said the joint statement issued by Vladimir Vorobe, chief-of-staff, Russian Federation Navy and Indian Flag Officer Commanding Goa Naval Area, Rear Admiral Philipose G Pynumootil.

"Exercise Indra was initiated in 2003, with an aim to enhance interoperability between Indian and Russian navies. India and Russia have shared long standing co-operation in defence equipment, training of personnel, transfer of defence technology and equipment spares.

"It is only thus natural that this military co-operation between the two nations evolves to the next level. This year''s exercise is the second iteration of Exercise Indra, extended to tri-services and the Indian Armed Forces are looking forward to operating with our Russian counterparts over land, in air and at sea," the statement said, adding that Exercise Indra would further "strengthen relations between the armed forces and enable undertaking joint operations in a cohesive manner to address common challenges".

The exercise has been divided into the harbour and the sea phase.

"The harbour phase of the exercise commenced on December 10, includes formal calls, planning conferences, professional interactions and sports events. The sea phase of the exercise will be held off Goa from December 16-19, in which INS Aditya, INS Tarkash, MiG29K fighter aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft and ship-borne helicopters would be participating from the Indian Navy," the statement added.

The Ghatak platoon of the Army, Mi 17, Su-30s and Jaguars of the IAF, along with Russian Marine Infantry, are also participating in the exercise.