France has deployed its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, frigates FS Connect and Provence, support vessel FS Marne and maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique for the five-day wargames.
India, in turn, is participating with indigenous guided-missile stealth destroyer INS Chennaiguided-missile frigate INS Teg, long-range maritime patrol aircraft P-8Is, Dorniers, helicopters and MiG-29K fighter jets.
“The exercise will witness advanced air defence exercises, tactical manoeuvres, surface firings, underway replenishment and other maritime operations. The two navies will endeavour to hone their war-fighting skills, enhance their interoperability to undertake multi-discipline operations, and demonstrate their ability as an integrated force to promote peace, security and stability in the region,” Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.
This is the 21st edition of the Varuna series of exercises, which have become a vital part of the strategic ties between the two countries. “Having grown in scope and complexity over the years, Varuna provides an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices,” he said.
“The exercise facilitates operational level interaction between the two navies to foster mutual cooperation for good order at sea, underscoring the shared commitment of both nations to security, safety and freedom of the global maritime commons,” he added.
In November last year, India and France had conducted a joint maritime surveillance mission in the southern Indian Ocean Region as well as the bilateral `Garuda’ air combat exercise at Jodhpur, as was reported by TOI.
As part of their strong strategic partnership, ranging from maritime security and defence-industrial collaboration to counter-terrorism and information-sharing, the two countries also regularly conduct the `Shakti’ between their armies.
The induction of 36 Rafale fighters by IAF under the Rs 59,000 crore deal in September 2016, apart from the ongoing Scorpene submarine-building and Mirage-2000 fighter upgrade projects, has further cemented this relationship.