Sea drill of largest ever Indo-French naval exercise begins Tuesday off Goa
For the first time, two aircraft carriers of the Indian and French Navies -- the INS Vikramaditya and the FNS Charles de Gaulle -- will lead their respective countries in the largest ever Indo-French naval exercises Varuna 2019, the sea phase of which begins on Tuesday.
The exercise will involve eight ships and two submarines.
“The sea phase will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will be held off Goa from May 7 to May 10, 2019 and would include anti submarine exercises, live firing drills, naval helicopter operations, and basic to advanced level exercises for carrier borne fighter aircraft. A second sea phase will take place off Djibouti later in the month,” Rear Admiral Sanjay Jasjit Singh who is commanding the Indian fleet told media persons at Goa’s Mormugao Port where the ships of the two navies are currently berthed.
The Indian Navy’s Western Naval Command will be participating in the exercise with a fleet of ships led by INS Vikramaditya with its integral air element, destroyer INS Mumbai, frigate INS Tarkash and fleet support ship INS Deepak and a submarine.
The French Navy is represented by aircraft carrier FNS Charles de Gaulle, destroyers FNS Forbin and FNS Provence, frigate FNA Latouche Treville besides submarines. On board the FNS Charles de Gaulle are Rafale-M fighter aircraft, the carrier version of the war plane which will be participating in the exercises.
The harbour phase of Varuna 2019 began on May 1 and will conclude Monday, included cross-visits, professional interactions and discussions; sports fixtures and cultural exchanges.
“Varuna is stepping up in scope and complexity this year to the highest interoperability level as operations will be conducted in all three dimensions: below, on and above the sea,” Rear-Admiral Oliver Lebas Commander of the Carrier Strike Group said.
The Charles de Gaulle is back in operation after a major midlife refit and upgrade. Before arriving in Goa it had taken part in operations in the Mediterranean Sea against ISIS.
Initiated in 1993 and named Varuna in 2001, Indo-French Naval exercises are a vital part of the growing strategic relationship between the two countries.