(This was originally posted in India Today by Manjeet Negi)
The Indian and French navies will hold a three-day mega wargame in the Arabian Sea beginning Sunday that will feature complex naval operations like advanced air defence and anti-submarine drills. The 19th edition of the Varuna exercise will showcase the increasing levels of synergy, coordination and interoperability between the two navies, officials said.
The Indian Navy will deploy guided missile stealth destroyer Kolkata, guided missile frigates Tarkash and Talwar, fleet support ship Deepak, a Kalvari-class submarine and a sleet of P-8I long range maritime patrol aircraft, they said. The French Navy will be represented by aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle with Rafale-M fighter jets, E2C Hawkeye aircraft and helicopters Caiman M and Dauphin, the officials said.
The French Navy will also deploy Horizon-class air defence destroyer Chevalier Paul, Aquitaine-class multi-mission frigate Provence and command-and-supply ship Var, the officials said. Indian Navy Spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said both the navies will endeavor to enhance and hone their war-fighting skills to demonstrate their ability as an integrated force to promote peace, security and stability in the maritime domain.
“The exercise highlights the growing bonhomie and showcases the increased levels of synergy, coordination and inter-operability between the two friendly navies,” he said. “These interactions further underscore the shared values as partner navies in ensuring the freedom of seas and the commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order,” Commander Madhwal said.
Indian side to be led by Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar
The Indian side will be led by Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, Flag Officer Commanding, Western Fleet, while the French side will be headed by Rear Admiral Marc Aussedat, Commander, Task Force 473. “The three-day exercise will see high-tempo naval operations at sea, including advanced air defense and anti-submarine exercises, intense fixed and rotary wing flying operations, tactical maneuvers, surface and anti-air weapon firings, and other maritime security operations,” Commander Madhwal said.
He said the Indian Navy’s guided-missile frigate INS Tarkash will continue to exercise with the French Carrier Strike Group (CSG) from April 28 to May 1. “During this period, the ship will take part in advanced surface, anti-submarine and air-defense operations with the French CSG,” he said.