NEW DELHI: The Indian and French navies are conducting the third and last phase of the 2018 Varuna naval exercise, from 1st to 7th of May, in the vicinity of Reunion Island, a French administrative department in the India Ocean.
The first phase of the exercise involved joint anti-submarine combat training off the Indian coast in Goa, with the participation of both the French nuclear submarine and the Indian Kalvari Scorpene-class submarine, while the second being focused on amphibious operations off Chennai’s coast, with the French landing helicopter dock LHD Dixmude.
According to the French Embassy in New Delhi, the current exercise includes the participation of two major vessels of the Indian Navy, the destroyer INS Mumbai and the Talwar class frigate INS Trikand, and the maiden deployment at Reunion Island of a multimission maritime aircraft, the Boeing P-8I Neptune. They will interact with the French ships permanently deployed at Reunion Island, including the frigate Nivôse.
The seven-day exercise sees the sailors simulating different scenarios, including air defense, firing, manoeuvers, asymmetric warfare and embarkation.
#Varuna2018 Warm waters of SW Indian Ocean to come alive 'Hunting for the Hunters'. Indo-French Naval Exercise #Varuna phase 3 commences at Reunion Islands @MarineNational @nsitharaman @SpokespersonMoD @DefenceMinIndia @Indian_Embassy pic.twitter.com/UD4gPWQ0uQ— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) May 1, 2018
Helicopters embarked on board navy ships are also training for touch-and-go landings. The two navies have been conducting joint bilateral exercises since 1993, and since 2001, they were called "Varuna."
Underscoring the relevance of Varuna, the Ambassador of France to India, Alexandre Ziegler, said, “This exercise illustrates the strong interest France and India share concerning maritime security issues in this region.”
A strong symbol of the Indo-French strategic partnership, the Varuna exercise is part of a long-term bilateral cooperation with India, illustrated by the regular port visits of French ships in India, and recently reinforced by the document on the Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region, signed during the State visit of President Emmanuel Macron on March 10.