India & France kick off high-voltage Varuna naval exercise in Arabian Sea

NEW DELHI: India and France on Monday kicked off their high-voltage `Varuna' naval combat exercise in the Arabian Sea, reinforcing that maritime security cooperation has

emerged as a major pillar of their bilateral strategic partnership. France has deployed its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, frigates FS Forbin 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 Chennai, guided-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.