The Indo-French joint naval exercise Varuna-18 was held in Arabian Sea off Goa coast. It was aimed to explore measures to facilitate operational-level interactions between their armed forces and increase mutual cooperation, considering the common global threats.
Varuna-18 was conducted in three sea areas, including the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and South Western Indian Ocean. The exercise was conducted in three phases and included anti-submarine, air defence and asymmetric engagement exercises.
The first phase of the exercise was held in Arabian Sea. The second phase was held off the Chennai coast in Bay of Bengal in April 2017 and third near France’s La Reunion Island in South Western Indian Ocean in May 2018.
This edition of exercise saw participation of French submarine and frigate Jean de Vienne from French side. The Indian Naval was represented by destroyer INS Mumbai, frigate Trikand with their integral helicopters, INS submarine Kalvari, P8-I and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft, as well as the Mig 29K fighter aircraft.
India is major partner of France in Indian Ocean region. Maritime security is priority in India-France’s defence and security policy, along with the fight against terrorism. 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 this annual bilateral exercise was conducted off French coast in April 2017. The Varuna series of exercises now has grown in scope and complexity and provides opportunity to naval forces of both countries to increase interoperability and learn from each other’s best practices.