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India, France joint naval exercise 'Varuna' starts


File photo of INS Teg, which is participating in the 21st edition of 'Varuna', the bilateral naval exercise between India and France. The exercise commenced on the Western Seaboard on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI):  The 21st edition of the bilateral naval exercise between India and France have commenced on the western seaboard, the Indian Navy said in a statement.

Initiated in 1993, the exercise was christened 'Varuna' in 2001 and has become "a hallmark of India France strategic bilateral relationship", it said on Monday.

This edition of the exercise will witness participation of indigenous guided missile stealth destroyer INS Chennai, guided missile frigate INS Teg, maritime patrol aircraft P-8I and Dornier, integral helicopters and MiG29K fighter aircraft, the statement said.

The French Navy will be represented by the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, frigates FS Forbin and Provence, support vessel FS Marne and maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique, it said.

The exercise will be conducted over five days from January 16 to 20 and will witness advanced air defence exercises, tactical manoeuvres, surface firings, underway replenishment and other maritime operations, it said.

"Units of both navies will endeavour to hone their war-fighting skills in maritime theatre, enhance their interoperability to undertake multi-discipline operations in the maritime domain and demonstrate their ability as an integrated force to promote peace, security and stability in the region," the Navy said.

"Having grown in scope and complexity over the years, this exercise provides an opportunity to learn from each other's best practices.

"The exercise facilitates operational level interaction between the two navies to foster mutual cooperation for good order at sea, underscoring the shared commitment of both nations to security, safety and freedom of the global maritime commons," it said.

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