Indo-French Exercise 'Varuna' off Djibouti

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New Delhi, Sep 19 (UNI) Bolstering bilateral naval relations, Indian and the French navies today completed joint manoeuvres off the Somali coast and in the Gulf of Aden as part of 'Varuna-07'.

The sea and air military exercise -- that commenced on September 11 -- aimed chiefly at increasing interoperability between the two navies incorporating manoeuvres such as the visiting of ships by airborne and seaborne means, commando projection and air-to-surface exercises as well as a maritime patrol.

The French contribution in the exercise came from the Djibouti- based units (six Mirage 2000s and two Puma helicopters) as well as from those placed under Alindien's command -- the Admiral commanding the Indian Ocean maritime zone -- comprising a maritime patrol aircraft, the corvette 'Commandant Blaison' and the 'La Motte Picquet' frigate which spearheaded the conduct of the exercise from the French side.

The Indian Navy participated through the destroyer 'Rajput', guided missile frigate 'Beas', supply ship 'Jyoti' and two helicopters besides several commando units, according to an official spokesperson here.

The precursor to this year's exercise 'Varuna-06' was held during March-April last year off Goa. The French contribution then centered on the aircraft carrier group 'Charles de Gaulle'.

India and France have established a solid and ever-strengthening partnership that has been formalised since both countries signed a comprehensive defence agreement in 2006.


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