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France, India increase complexity of bilateral naval drills

Indian Navy and French Navy assets participating in Exercise ‘Varuna' 2022. (Indian Navy)

In an uncertain regional environment, the Indian Navy and the French Navy (Marine Nationale) have increased the complexity of a bilateral naval exercise that takes place annually in the Indian Ocean Region.

The first phase of the 2022 iteration of the drills, which is known as Exercise ‘Varuna', featured an expanded scope of maritime operations including “advanced anti-submarine and air-defence exercises”, the Indian Navy said in a 2 April statement.

These operations were carried out in addition to the gunnery practices, helicopter cross-deck landings, and tactical manoeuvres held in previous iterations of the exercise.

The first phase drills were held from 31 March to 3 April in waters off the coast of Goa, while the second phase will begin in May 2022.

Representing the Indian Navy at the first phase of the exercise were its third Kolkata/Visakhapatnam (Project 15A/15B)-class guided-missile destroyer INS Chennai with an embarked Sea King helicopter, a P-8I, a Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft, and a MiG-29 fighter aircraft.

The Marine Nationale participated in this phase with its third La Fayette-class frigate, FS Courbet, and submarine support vessel, FS Loire.

Chennai is a 164 m destroyer that has a top speed of 32 kt and a standard range of 4,500 n miles at 18 kt. The warship's submarine prosecution capabilities is provided by indigenously developed twin-tube torpedo launchers, the Russian-made RBU-6000 rocket launchers, and the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-progressed HUMSA-NG hull-mounted sonar.


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