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Indian, French navies jt exercises ''Varuna'' begins Mar 27

By Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 24 (UNI) The ''Varuna'' series of joint exercises between the Indian and the French navies will be held off the west coast from March 27 to April 7, an indicator of the continuing and growing bilateral cooperation between them.

Some of the 'firsts' of the exercise, 'Varuna-2006', include the co-ordinated operation of the Indian and French aircraft carriers (Viraat and Charles de Gaulle), firing on aerial targets, cross-deck operations by the Indian Navy's Sea Harrier aircraft from the deck of the Charles de Gaulle, and participation by the Indian Air Force, a Defence Ministry release said here today.

The eighth in the generic series 'Varuna', the exercise will see the participation of five Indian navy surface combatants, one submarine, and a number of different types of shore-based fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

The exercise, will, in addition, provide an opportunity Indian Navy to showcase its naval ship-building capability through the participation of indigenously-built front-line ships such as Mumbai, Gomati, Betwa and Aditya.

The Indian Navy will field the aircraft carrier Viraat along with her air-group, the guided-missile destroyer Mumbai, the guided-missile frigates Gomati and Betwa, the fleet-replenishment tanker Aditya, and, the submarine Shankul.

The Indian Air Force will field Jaguar And Canberra aircraft.

The French task force comprises of nuclear-propelled aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle (with her own air group), the guided-missile destroyers Cassard and Montcalm, the leet-replenishment tanker Somme, the nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) Saphir, and, French 'Atlantique-II', Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPAs).

In conformance with modern practice, the French task force has one Royal Navy frigate, HMS Lancaster, embedded within it.

One of the major thrust-areas would be 'DACT' (Dissimilar Air Combat) between the Indian Navy's Sea Harrier aircraft ex-Viraat, and, the Rafale and Super Etendards of the Charles de Gaulle.

Other aspects include fleet air-defence, intermediate and advanced ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare), MIO (Maritime Interdiction Operations), VBSS (Visit, Board, Search and Seizure) procedures and tactical manoeuvres.

A DVP (Distinguished Visitors' Programme), which would also include few representatives of the print and electronic media, has been scheduled on April 2, off Goa.

The exercise also incorporates harbour-based professional, social and sports interaction between the two navies.

The Indian units will be under the tactical command of the FOCWF (Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet), Rear Admiral Anup Singh.

His counterpart from the French Navy will be Rear Admiral Xavier Magne.

The last such exercise was held in November 2005 in the Gulf Of Aden off Djibouti.

UNI YJ KD BD1904

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