Amidst growing defence cooperation India and France will begin the 19th edition of their bilateral naval exercise Varuna starting Sunday. The three-day exercise will take place in the Arabian Sea. Earlier in April, Indian and French navies, along with navies of the US, Japan and Australia had participated in the La Pérouse exercise in Bay of Bengal between April 5 and April 7.
Navy said in a statement on Saturday that the exercise will have “high tempo-naval operations at sea, including advanced air defence and anti-submarine exercises, intense fixed and rotary wing flying operations, tactical manoeuvres, surface and anti-air weapon firings, underway replenishment and other maritime security operations” and both the navies will “endeavour to enhance and hone their war-fighting skills to demonstrate their ability as an integrated force to promote peace, security and stability in the maritime domain”.
Varuna-21, it said, “highlights growing bonhomie and showcases increased levels of synergy, coordination and inter-operability between the two friendly navies” and these interactions “further underscore the shared values as partner navies, in ensuring freedom of seas and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order”.
Guided missile stealth destroyer, frigates fleet support ships Kalavari class submarines and P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft will participate for the Indian Navy, while the French Navy will be represented by its Aircraft Carrier Charles-de-Gaulle with Rafale-M fighter, E2C Hawkeye aircrafts and helicopters Caïman M and Dauphin embarked, among other vessels.
After the completion of the exercise “to consolidate accrued best practices and enhance interoperability, Indian Navy’s guided missile frigate Tarkash will continue to exercise with the French Navy’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG)” from April 28 to May 1 and it will “take part in advanced surface, anti-submarine and air-defence operations with the French CSG”.