Indian and French navies conducted final and third phase of Varuna naval exercise 2018 near Reunion Island in Indian Ocean region (IOR) to enhance their operational coordination. In the final phase, both navies simulated different possible scenarios such as asymmetric warfare and tested their air defence capabilities.
Varuna Exercise 2018
2018 Varuna naval exercise between Indian and French Navy was conducted in three phases and included anti-submarine, air defence and asymmetric engagement exercises. It was aimed to explore measures to facilitate operational-level interactions between their armed forces and increase mutual cooperation, considering common global threats. It was also held at time when Indian Ocean is witnessing increased Chinese naval presence.
The first phase was held in Arabian Sea, second phase was held off the Chennai coast in Bay of Bengal and third near France’s Reunion Island in South Western Indian Ocean. The first phase had focused on joint anti-submarine combat training off Indian coast in Goa, with participation of French nuclear submarine and India’s Kalvari Scorpene-class submarine. The second phase focused on amphibious operations.
Indian Navy’s destroyer, INS Mumbai, and frigate INS Trikand were the vessels participating in the exercise. Moreover, Indian Navy’s submarine, Kalvari, P8-1 and Dornier maritime patrol aircraft and MiG 29K fighter aircraft also had participated in the exercise.
India is major defence partner of France in Indian Ocean region. Maritime security is priority in India-France’s defence and security policy, along with fight against terrorism. Indian Navy and 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 naval 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.
Reunion Island: It is French island strategically located in Indian Ocean east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius. Around 8,50,000 French citizens reside there. It is most prosperous island in the Indian Ocean, having the highest GDP per capita in the region.