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India, France to hold joint naval exercise

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The Varuna exercise comes at a time when both navies are coordinating anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia.

NEW DELHI (BNS): The Indian and French navies will carry out a joint maritime exercise off the coasts of Brittany from June 27 to July 4 for enhancing inter-operability between the two navies.

Navy officials said here Monday that the joint exercise, which had been conducting under the Varuna series, will be held outside Indian waters for the first time.

“For the last seven years, India and France have continually strengthened their bilateral naval relation as a part of which we have conducted an annual bilateral exercise, called Varuna. This exercise aims at enhancing interoperability between the two navies, with an ever increasing complexity,” a defence ministry statement said.

The complex exercise involving many assets from the navies of the two nations is part of an Indian Task Force deployment to Europe, which began in May and would continue till next month.

The exercise will witness participation of indigenously-built guided missile destroyer INS Delhi, stealth frigates Brahmaputra and Beas, replenishment ship Aditya, and their integral helicopter elements from the Indian side.

The French navy will contribute assets from their Admiral Commanding Atlantic Ocean Zone (CECLANT) command such as destroyers Primauguet with a helicopter, frigate Lieutenant de Vaisseau Le Hanaff, and the nuclear powered attack submarine Emeraude.

Several French aircraft, including maritime patrol aircraft and navy's fighters, will take part in the exercise, the officials said.

The Varuna exercise, under a naval partnership signed in 2006, comes at a time when both navies are coordinating anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia.

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