Indo-French joint naval exercise from tomorrow

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New Delhi, May 8 (UNI) The nine-day Indo-French bilateral exercise -- Varuna 08 -- would commence off the East Coast from tomorrow.

At the tenth such exercise, the Indian Naval group would consist of newly-inducted Landing Platform Dock (LPD) Jalashwa, Guided-Missile Destroyer Ranjit, Guided Missile Corvette Kirch and Submarine Vagli.

The French task force would comprise Landing Platform Dock Mistral, Guided Missile Destroyer Dupleix and embedded Royal Navy Frigate Westminister.

The joint task force for the exercise would be commanded by Rear Admiral Alain Hinden of the French Navy.

The 'Varuna' series of bilateral exercise is a significant facet of the growing co-operation between Indian and France.

This series of exercises between the two navies commenced in 2001 and has since grown in scope and complexity.

Nine exercises conducted so far have met the underlying aims of facilitating mutual learning and cross-pollination of best practices, a spokesperson of the Indian Navy said.

''The Indian Navy lays great stress on enhancing bilateral ties and improving understanding and operability with developed navies through professional interaction,'' he added.

This particular edition of the exercise will, in addition, provide an opportunity to build on the Indian Navy's cooperative capability for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief through the participation of newly-inducted platform Jalashwa along with the French Navy's Mistral, the spokesperson said.

In addition, intermediate and advanced level anti-submarine exercise, Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations and tactical exercises would also be conducted during the sea exercise phase, he added.

The exercise would culminate with a harbour phase at Visakhapatnam from May 14-16.

''During the period, apart from reaffirming our friendship, harbour based professional, social and sports interaction between the two navies is planned,'' the spokesperson said.

UNI AG RR CS1927

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