Varuna-France and India hold major “Varuna” naval exercise with French aircraft carrier, Boost Cooperation

Varuna-France and India hold major “Varuna” naval exercise with French aircraft carrier. The Indian and French navies are conducting the 19th edition of their annual “Varuna” joint exercise from April 27-29 with large-scale drills in the western Arabian Sea, learned citing indiastrategic.

Varuna-France and India hold major “Varuna” naval exercise with French aircraft carrier

The Indian and French navies are conducting the 19th edition of their annual “Varuna” joint exercise from April 27-29 with large-scale drills in the western Arabian Sea. The exercise involves the participation of, among others, the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its entire carrier strike group and the submarine, INS Kalvari.

“French & Indian Navies hold annual Varuna exercise in Indian Ocean with French aircraft carrier strike group. 3-day long large-scale drills show unprecedented interoperability and underscore our two countries’ joint vision for a free, open & inclusive #IndoPacific,” French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain tweeted.

The other Indian Navy ships participating are guided missile stealth destroyer INS Kolkata, guided missile frigates INS Tarkash and INS Talwar, Fleet Support Ship INS Deepak, with Seaking 42B and Chetak integral helicopters, as also P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

The Indian side is led by Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet.

The exercise “will see 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. Units of both 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,” the Indian Defence Ministry said.

On completion of the exercise, “to consolidate accrued best practices and enhance interoperability, Indian Navy’s guided missile frigate INS Tarkash will continue to exercise with the French Navy’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) from 28th April to 1st May 2021. During this period, the ship will take part in advanced surface, anti-submarine and air-defence operations with the French CSG”.

“VARUNA-21 highlights growing bonhomie and showcases increased levels of synergy, coordination and inter-operability between the two friendly navies. 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,” the Ministry said.

The Charles de Gaulle, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a displacement of 42,500 tons (4 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower), carries a crew of 1200, 15.4% of whom are women, and an air wing consisting of 20 Rafale marine jets, two E-2C Hawkeye aircraft and several helicopters. Its 75-meter deck with catapult launching enables the launch of Rafale marine jets in less than 3 seconds every 30 seconds.

“The joint exercise comprises various drills across the spectrum of maritime operations, with the goal of fostering interoperability and mutual learning between the two navies and reinforcing their capability for joint action in a strategic area. In this respect, this exercise underscores the shared interests and commitment of both nations in promoting maritime security in the Indo-Pacific. It bears testimony to the vitality of the strategic partnership between France and India, which continued being strengthened despite the pandemic,” the French Embassy said.

Initiated in 1983, Indo-French naval cooperation plays a key role in the two countries’ joint vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. It has intensified in recent years with increasingly ambitious joint exercises that have raised the degree of the two navies’ interoperability to a new level. In early April, the Indian Navy took part for the first time in the France-led naval exercise “La Pérouse” with the navies of the United States, Australia and Japan.

The “Varuna” joint exercise is part of the French carrier strike group’s “CLEMENCEAU 21” deployment, which the French Navy is conducting from February to June 2021 in the eastern Mediterranean, the Gulf and the Indian Ocean (Arabian Sea). Its goal is to contribute to the stabilization of these strategic zones and strengthening cooperation with the navies of partner countries, in particular India for the Indian Ocean component. As part of this deployment, the carrier strike group is also taking part in anti-ISIS operations.

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