Mumbai: Australian PM Anthony Albanese on Thursday mounted a fighter aircraft onboard India's first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, in Mumbai.

The Australian PM sat inside the fighter jet while officers of the Indian Navy shared details and information on India's biggest aircraft carrier.

"I'm very honoured to be here today on the newly commissioned Indian-designed and manufactured INS Vikrant, my visit reflects my government's commitment to place India at the heart of Australia's approach to India both Pacific and beyond. Whilst here, I have had the great pleasure of meeting with the talented and highly professional men and women of India's Navy. what lifts defence relationships to new levels is the resolve and foresight of those who see the relationship not just for what it is, but for what it could be. One such person is my friend, Prime Minister Modi," the Australian PM said while interacting with mediapersons after climbing onboard INS Vikrant.

He thanked PM Modi for his "dedication to driving forward our defence and security partnership which is of increasing strategic importance as we navigate the challenges of our region together".

"For Australia, India is a top-tier security partner. The Indian Ocean is central to both countries' security and prosperity. And there has never been a point in our country's history where we've had such a strong strategic alignment which has been reinforced by my current visit to India and will be reinforced further by Prime Minister Modi's attendance at the quad leaders meeting," the Australian PM added.

Albanese said further, "In a short period of time, we both depend on free and open access to sea lanes in the Indopacific for our trade and for our economic well-being. And we share an unwavering commitment to upholding the rules-based international order and ensuring the Indopacific is open, inclusive and prosperous."

"For the first time in November, we conducted complex and sophisticated exercises in Indopacific endeavour and Exercise Ostrahund. This was capped off by Exercise Malabar where we bolstered our military interoperability with India alongside close partners Japan and the United States," he added.

"More important than these statistics is the sheer complexity and high-end nature of our military engagements which is unprecedented. I predict that 2023 will be busier than ever for our defence cooperation," Albanese added.

The inaugural Australia-India General Rawat Defense Officer Exchange program is currently taking place in India. "This pioneering exchange program created by Prime Minister Modi will ensure our defence personnel develop the familiarity and trust that underpins a close and long-lasting relationship," Albanese said.

He announced that later this year, Australia will host 'Exercise Malabar' for the very first time while India will also participate in Australia's 'Talisman Sabre' exercise for the first time in August.

"It will be a great privilege to welcome India's Navy to Australia in August and I thank them again for their generosity in hosting us here today," the Australian PM signed off saying.

Albanese was spotted munching on Indian snacks with the Naval officers on the aircraft carrier.

In what was a major milestone in the journey towards 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India), Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned the country's first indigenous aircraft carrier Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant on September 02, 2022.

Akin to a floating city, the aircraft carrier produces electricity that is sufficient to power 5000 households.

Designed by Indian Navy's in-house Warship Design Bureau (WDB) and built by Cochin Shipyard Limited, a Public Sector Shipyard under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, INS Vikrant is the largest ship ever built in the maritime history of India.

The 262.5 m long and 61.6 m wide Vikrant displaces approx 43,000 T, and has a maximum designed speed of 28 Knots with an endurance of 7,500 Nautical Miles. The ship has around 2,200 compartments, designed for a crew of about 1,600.

The ship is capable of operating air wing consisting of 30 aircraft comprising of MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31, MH-60R multi-role helicopters, in addition to indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). Using a novel aircraft-operation mode known as Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR), INS Vikrant is equipped with a ski jump for launching aircraft, and a set of 'arrester wires' for their recovery onboard.

With 76% indigenous content, the construction of INS Vikrant has resulted in direct employment generation for over 2,000 employees of CSL. In addition, it has resulted in indirect employment generation for approximately 12,500 employees for over 550 OEMs, sub-contractors, ancillary industries and over 100 MSMEs.

Australian PM Albanese's visit to INS Vikrant marks the celebration of 75 years of friendship between India and Australia.

On his maiden India trip, Albanese and PM Narendra Modi briefly watched the ongoing fourth and final Test for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, between India and Australia, at Ahmedabad on Thursday.

A special coin, minted to mark the occasion, was used at the toss. The Prime Ministers also took a lap around the stadium on a specially designed chariot to mark the occasion.

Albanese also compared the cricket match with the burgeoning bilateral ties between India and Australia, saying that both countries were cooperating to make a better world just as their cricket teams were competing to be the best in the world.