Fourteenth (14th) edition of Indo-French naval exercise (VARUNA) started with the arrival of four French naval ships at Goa today. Representing the French Navy is Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle, two destroyers Chevalier Paul and Jean de Vienne, replenishment tanker Meuse and a maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique 2. The Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle is carrying its complement of fighter aircraft Rafale M, Strike Aircraft Super Etendard, E2C Hawkeye AWACS and helicopters Dauphin and Alouette 3.
Aircraft Carrier INS Viraat, destroyer Mumbai, stealth frigate Tarkash, guided missile frigate Gomati, replenishment tanker Deepak, submarine Shankul and a few Fast Attack Craft are participating from the Indian side. Aviation assets of the Indian Navy participating in VARUNA-15 include carrier-borne fighter aircraft Sea Harriers, maritime reconnaissance aircraft P-8 I and Dorniers along with integral helicopters Seaking 42B and Chetak.
The scope of Exercise VARUNA includes the entire gamut of maritime operations from Aircraft Carrier Operations, Anti Submarines Warfare Exercises, Maritime Interdiction Operations to multi-ship replenishment exercise.
Regular IN-FN interaction over the years has allowed both navies to gradually and systematically increase the complexity and professional content of the joint exercises. VARUNA aims at deriving mutual benefit from the experiences of the two navies. The confidence gained through such exercises helps develop Standard Operating Procedures, particularly in the fields of Joint Maritime Air Operations Planning with exchange of Carrier Operational Capabilities. The other joint exercises include Coordinated Anti-Submarine Exercises, Surface Exercises, Cross Deck Flying, Damage Control and Fire Fighting, Air Defence, Firing Drills, Air to Sea Firing, Tactical Exercises and Visit Board Search and Seize Operations, which further hone the fighting efficiency of the two combat forces.
VARUNA-15 is scheduled from 23 Apr 15 to 02 May 15 off Goa and is aimed at further strengthening bilateral ties between India and France.
Relations between India and France have traditionally been close and friendly. With the establishment of strategic partnership in 1998, there has been significant progress in all areas of bilateral cooperation and exchanges including naval exercises. The Indian Navy and the French Navy have been conducting naval exercises since 1983 and following the establishment of a strategic partnership, these exercises were christened as ‘VARUNA’ in 2001. Till date, thirteen such exercises have been conducted and the last exercise VARUNA 12 was conducted in the Mediterranean Sea from 19-22 Jul 12 off Toulon.