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'Bilateral exercises useful during important naval ops'

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ON BOARD INS VIRAAT (PTI): Expressing gratitude towards India for rescuing several French nationals from war-ravaged Yemen as part of 'Operation Rahat', a senior French Navy officer has stressed the need for holding bilateral exercises.

"Some of your (Indian) ships conducted evacuation of French nationals from Yemen. We have been very grateful for the support provided by the Indian Navy during such occasion," Rear Adm Eric Chaperon, commander of Task Force 473 told reporters here on Saturday.

Task Force 473 representing the French side is a part of the ongoing bilateral naval exercises 'Varuna', which begun off-Goa coast from April 23 and will culminate on May 2.

Two Indian ships - INS Mumbai and INS Tarkash-- which are currently part of Indian fleet for the exercises had participated in evacuation of civilians from Yemen recently.

India evacuated over 3,000 people including over 1,200 foreign nationals during the risky operation.

Chaperon attributed the success of 'Operation Rahat' to naval exercises like 'Varuna'.

"This (successful evacuation) has been a result of exercise...There has been so many exchanges between our ships," he said.

By developing understanding and cooperation between ships, we facilitate their cooperation for any kind of mission.

"The level of cooperation that we draw here is useful in any place, where armed ships are asked to move," he added.

He said such operations have to be executed in limited time frame and there is a necessity to exchange information and help.

"What we are doing here is an exercise of cooperation," the French naval officer said.

Rear Admiral R Hari Kumar, flag officer commanding western region said Indian Navy was also in touch with French counterpart during the evacuation in Yemen.

"A common strategy was developed between both the forces that helped the mission. When you practise during the exercise you arrive at common procedures and methods of how one ship can help another in a joint mission," he commented.

The 14th edition of 'Varuna' started with the arrival of four French naval ships at Goa including aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, two destroyers Chevalier Paul and Jean de Vienne, replenishment tanker Meuse and a maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique 2.

The scope for exercise includes the entire gamut of maritime operation from aircraft carrier operations, anti submarines warfare exercises, maritime interdiction operations to multi ship replenishment exercise.

The aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is carrying its complement of fighter aircraft Rafale M, Strike aircraft super Eternard, E2C Haekeye AWACS and helicopters Dauphin and Alouette 3.

The Indian Navy is represented by the aircraft carrier INS Viraat, a Delhi class destroyer, a Teg and a Brahmaputra class frigate, replenishment ship Deepak, a Shishumar class submarine and fast attack crafts.

The Indian Navy's aviation assets, including fighter aircraft Sea Harriers, maritime reconnaissance aircraft P8I and Dorniers, Seaking 42B and Chetak helicopters are also participating in this exercise.

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India  Varuna  France  Yemen  Navy  
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