The 21st edition of the bilateral naval exercise between India and France (named Varuna after Indian god of oceans) commenced on the Western Seaboard today on 16th January 2023. A hallmark of Indo-French strategic partnership, the joint naval exercise between India and France began in 1993. It was named Varuna in 2001.
In this year’s exercise, indigenous guided missile stealth destroyer INS Chennai, guided missile frigate INS Teg, maritime patrol aircraft P-8I and Dornier, integral helicopters and MiG29K fighter aircraft are participating from Indian side. The French Navy is represented by the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, frigates FS Forbin and Provence, support vessel FS Marne and maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique.
The exercise will be conducted over five days from 16 to 20 January 2023 and will witness advanced air defence exercises, tactical manoeuvres, surface firings, underway replenishment and other maritime operations. Units of both navies will endeavour to hone their war-fighting skills in maritime theatre, enhance their inter-operability to undertake multi-discipline operations in the maritime domain and demonstrate their ability as an integrated force to promote peace, security and stability in the region.
The joint-drills between the two navies provides an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices. It 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.
The joint-exercises are held either in the Indian Ocean or Mediterranean Sea with the aim of improving Indo-French coordination on capabilities like cross-deck operations, replenishment-at-sea, minesweeping, anti-submarine warfare and information sharing.
France is Littoral State of the Indian Ocean through the French Overseas region of Réunion, Mayotte and Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean.