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India-French joint naval exercise 'Varuna-18' begins off Goa coast, to include anti-submarine and air defence exercises

Panaji: The India-French joint naval exercise, "Varuna-18", commenced on Monday in the Arabian Sea off the Goa coast and will include anti-submarine, air defence and asymmetric engagement exercises, a navy official said.

The French Navy's anti-submarine frigate, Jean de Vienne, the Indian Navy's destroyer, INS Mumbai, and frigate INS Trikand are among the vessels participating in the exercise.

 India-French joint naval exercise Varuna-18 begins off Goa coast, to include anti-submarine and air defence exercises

Representational Image. PTI

The Indian Navy's submarine, Kalvari, P8-1 and Dornier maritime patrol aircraft and MiG 29K fighter aircraft are also participating in the exercise.

The first phase of the exercise, which commenced on Monday, will conclude on 24 March, a defence official said.

The second phase will be held off the Chennai coast in April and the third near the La Reunion Island in May.

India and France will explore the measures to facilitate operational-level interactions between their respective armed forces and increase mutual cooperation, considering the common global threats, the official added.

Rear Admiral MA Hampiholi, Flag Officer Commander, Western Fleet of the Indian Navy, said "Varuna-18" would be conducted in three sea areas, including the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and South Western Indian Ocean.

The first phase would see the participation of French submarine and frigate Jean de Vienne, he added.

"It is noteworthy that the progress of the 'Varuna' series of naval exercises has found a mention in the joint statement of the Prime Minister of India and President of France on March 10 this year," he said.

Real Admiral Didier Piaton, who is heading the French side for the exercise, said India was a major partner of France in the Indian Ocean region.

"Maritime cooperation between India and France will be crucial in order to maintain the safety of international sea lanes for unimpeded commerce and communications in accordance with the international law, for countering maritime terrorism and piracy and building maritime domain awareness.

"Maritime security is a priority in our defence and security policy, along with the fight against terrorism," he added.

The Indian Navy and the French Navy have been conducting naval exercises since 1983. These exercises were christened as "Varuna" in 2001. The last edition of the exercise was conducted off the French coast in April last year.

The "Varuna" series of exercises has grown in scope and complexity over the years and provided an opportunity to the naval forces of both countries to increase interoperability and learn from each other's best practices, the official said.

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Updated Date: Mar 19, 2018 19:41:19 IST