India and France have concluded the three-day ‘Varuna-2021’ naval exercise in the Arabian Sea.

The 19th edition of the bilateral ‘Varuna-2021’ exercise involved a variety of drills, including advanced air defence and anti-submarine exercises, fixed and rotary wing flying operations, and tactical manoeuvres.

Aimed at improving interoperability and enhancing war fighting capabilities, the exercise commenced on 25 April and ended on 27 April.

The two naval forces participated in surface and anti-air weapon firings, underway replenishment, and other maritime security operations.

The Indian side was represented by guided missile stealth destroyer INS Kolkata, guided missile frigates INS Tarkash and INS Talwar, fleet support ship INS Deepak, with Seaking 42B and Chetak integral helicopters.

Additionally, the Indian Navy has deployed a Kalvari class submarine and P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

France has fielded aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle carrying Rafale-M fighter, E2C Hawkeye aircraft, and Caïman M and Dauphin helicopters.

Horizon-class air defence destroyer Chevalier Paul, Aquitaine-class multi-missions frigate FNS Provence, a Caïman M helicopter, and a command and supply ship VAR also participated in the exercise.

Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement: “The seamless coordination, precise execution of manoeuvres, and accuracy in complex exercises characterised the conduct of Varuna-2021 and has helped further strengthen mutual confidence, inter-operability and sharing of best practices between both navies.”

MoD noted that the exercises were completely executed in the ‘non-contact format’.

With the conclusion of Varuna-2021 exercise, INS Tarkash will now join the French Navy’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) to participate in advanced surface, anti-submarine and air-defence operations from 28 April to 1 May this year.

In February this year, India’s western neighbour Pakistan conducted a multinational naval maritime exercise Aman-2021 in Arabian Sea.