India, France hold naval exercises off Goa coast
The opening day of the exercises Varuna II saw India's Sea Harrier combat aircraft landing for first time.india Updated: Apr 02, 2006 21:48 IST
Adding a new chapter in bilateral ties, aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines of India and France, supported by their air forces, on Sunday undertook began week-long joint exercises off the Goa coast to tone up inter-operability and make them ready in the event of integrated operations.
The opening day of the exercises Varuna II saw India's Sea Harrier combat aircraft landing for the first time on Charles de Gaulle, the nuclear-powered French aircraft carrier participating in the war games for the first time.
As two Sea Harriers, having the unique capability of vertical take-off and landing, landed on Charles de Gaulle after starting from Indian aircraft carrier INS Viraat a few kilometres away, the French ship became only the second foreign aircraft carrier after the US one on which the Indian fighters have landed.
Another highlight of the eighth joint exercise is that for the first time, aircraft carriers of both the countries are participating for the first time.
The two Navies have been conducting the joint exercises since 2001.
While one of the Sea Harriers took off immediately after landing, another halted for sometime triggering speculation that it had developed some technical problems.
Senior offiicials from both sides said it had stayed back for refuelling as it was running short of fuel.
The aircraft took off again after about an hour.