After a prolific harbour phase since May 1, the Indo-French naval exercise Varuna 19.1 intensified on Day Two of the sea phase. On May 8, first day of the exercise, French naval ships conducted air-to-air combat exercise, air defence, anti-submarine and surface shoot exercises.

Earlier, aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, and French ships Provence, LaTouche Treville, Forbin and tanker Marne sailed out of Goa harbour to begin the sea phase of the exercise with Indian units. The level of operations intensified on the second day of Varuna 19.1 Sea Phase with participation of increased number of fighter aircraft, helicopters and coordinated exercises between the ships. The day commenced with submarine exercise with dedicated Maritime Reconnaissance phase and ship phase detecting the submerged submarine.

Air defence exercise between the task groups of Delhi and Paris progressed with larger number of fighter aircraft participating from both nations. To enhance the complexity of air defence, controls of the fighters were handed over to the destroyers of each group by the respective aircraft carriers. ADEX for the day terminated with the MiGs of INS Vikramaditya guiding the Rafale fighter jets from the Charles de Gaulle in a planned firing exercise on Pigeon Island.

The first phase of the joint exercise between Indian and French naval forces began off Goa’s coast on May 1. Varuna 19.1 It is scheduled to culminate on May 10. Varuna 19.2, the second phase, is slated to be held in the end of this month in Djibouti.

The harbour phase at Goa included cross-visits, professional interactions and discussions, and sports events. The sea phase will comprise exercises across the spectrum of maritime operations. The multi-domain exercise will see sea, air and undersea activities involving the newly modernised Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and its battle group.

Varuna is the largest ever joint exercise undertaken by the¬†navies of India and France yet. “It represents the pinnacle of the strengthened maritime co-operation between India and France,” said a Navy statement.