‘VARUNA 10′ the bilateral naval exercise between the Indian Navy and the French Navy is scheduled to commence from 07 Jan 11 with aircraft carriers, destroyers/frigates, tankers and submarines from both sides participating.
For VARUNA 10, the French Navy will be represented by ships from the French Carrier Strike Group, designated Task Force 473 and mainly based at Toulon, France. The Task Force includes the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, destroyers FNS Forbin and FNS Tourville, supply ship FNS Meuse and nuclear powered submarine FNS Amethyste. Aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle will be carrying its complement of fighter aircraft, Rafale and Super Etendard, airborne early warning aircraft E2C Hawkeye and integral helicopters.
The Indian Navy will be represented by aircraft carrier INS Viraat, two indigenous frigates INS Godavari and INS Ganga and one Shishumar class submarine, INS Shalki. Sea Harrier fighters, fixed and rotary wing aircraft are also scheduled to participate in the bilateral exercise. The harbour phase is scheduled from 07 to 10 Jan 11 and the sea phase will be conducted in the Arabian Sea from 11 to 14 Jan 11. The scope of VARUNA 10 includes the entire gamut of maritime operations ranging from Aircraft Carrier Operations, Anti-Submarine Warfare operations and Maritime Interdiction Operations exercises.
Indian Navy and the French Navy have been conducting bilateral naval exercises since May 1993. However, it was from 2001 that the IN-FN bilateral exercises have been called “VARUNA”. Till date, eleven such exercises have been conducted. The last exercise VARUNA 09 was conducted off Brest in France from 27 Jun to 04 Jul 09, to coincide with the overseas deployment of IN ships to the Mediterranean and Atlantic. Regular IN -FN interaction over the years has allowed both sides to gradually and systematically increase the complexity and professional content of the bilateral exercise.
VARUNA aims at deriving mutual benefit from the experiences of the two navies. The understanding and confidence gained through such exercises has helped develop SOPs, particularly for cooperation in Anti Piracy Operations and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. This exercise will further strengthen the IN-FN cooperation and coordination.
India with its long-coastline, and significant maritime capability sits astride, the sea lanes of Indian Ocean Region through which most of the worlds energy carriers transit. Due to increasing piracy and maritime terrorism, navies of several countries have been co-operating with each other to strengthen maritime security in the lOR. Naval cooperation between India and the France epitomises this and is in the long term interests of both countries. Both navies have, over the years, undertaken bilateral activities such as exercises at sea, training visits and courses, information exchange, and technical cooperation. The navies have significant convergence of interests, especially in maritime security in this region.