New Delhi (NVI): Indian and French navy today started a three-day joint naval exercise in the western Arabian Sea region of the Indian Ocean, Ambassador of France to India Emmanuel Lenain said.
This 19th edition of “Varuna” joint exercise starting today, involves the participation of the French Navy aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, and its entire carrier strike group.
“The French Navy ships participating in the exercise include aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle with its carrier air wing (Rafale marine, E-2C Hawkeye, helicopters Caïman marine and Dauphin), one multi-mission frigate, Provence, one air defence destroyer, Chevalier Paul, and one command and supply ship, Var,” Lenain said.
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 “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.
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.