Indo-French naval wargames to begin in Arabian Sea

Written by: Abdul Nisar
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New Delhi, Jan 6 (ANI): To enhance interoperability between the two navies in wake of increasing piracy and maritime terrorism, the Indo-French bilateral naval exercise will commence on Friday in the Arabian Sea which will see participation of France's Carrier Strike Group for the first time.

India with its long-coastline, and significant maritime capability sits astride, the sea-lanes of Indian Ocean Region through which most of the world's energy carriers transit. Naval cooperation between India and the France epitomises this and is in the long-term interests of both countries.

The scope of Exercise VARUNA 10 includes the entire gamut of maritime operations ranging from aircraft carrier operations, anti-submarine warfare operations and maritime interdiction operations exercises.

The French Navy will be represented by ships from the French Carrier Strike Group, designated Task Force 473 and mainly based at Toulon. It includes the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, destroyers FNS Forbin and FNS Tourville, supply ship FNS Meuse and nuclear powered submarine FNS Amethyste.

Aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle will be carrying its complement of fighter aircraft, Rafale and Super Etendard, airborne early warning aircraft E2C Hawkeye and integral helicopters.

The Indian Navy will be represented by aircraft carrier INS Viraat, two indigenous frigates INS Godavari and INS Ganga and one Shishumar class submarine, INS Shalki.

The harbour phase of the exercise is scheduled from January 7-11 and the sea phase will be conducted in the Arabian Sea from January 11-14.

The Indian Navy and the French Navy have been conducting bilateral naval exercises since May 1993. However, it was from 2001 that the bilateral exercises have been called "VARUNA".

Till date, eleven such exercises have been conducted. The last exercise VARUNA 09 was conducted off Brest in France. (ANI)

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