The 21st Edition of the Bilateral Naval Exercise between India and France – Exercise Varuna commenced on the Western Seaboard on 16 January 2023 to be concluded on 20 January. The bilateral exercise between the two navies started in 1993, it was christened as ‘VARUNA’ in 2001.
This edition witnessed participation of indigenous guided missile stealth destroyer INS Chennai, guided missile frigate INS Teg, maritime patrol aircraft P-8I and Do-228 aircraft, integral helicopters and MiG29K fighter aircraft.
The French Navy was represented by the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, frigates FS Forbin and Provence, support vessel FS Marne and maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique. The exercise conducted over five days from 16 to 20 January 2023 witnessed advanced air defence exercises, tactical manoeuvres, surface firings, underway replenishment and other maritime operations.
Rafale M naval fighterjets of French Navy also flew alongside Mig29K of Indian Navy for a variety of joint training manoeuvers. Rafale is the lead choice for the 26 Naval fighters (F-18/Rafale) deal for the new INS Vikrant commissioned into Indian Navy in August 2022. The Indian Navy MiG-29K fighters also made a touch-and-go onboard carrier Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. The P8I of the Indian Navy also made fly by beside Charles de Gaulle carrier.