EXERCISE VARUNA – 2021
#GS3 #MARITIME SECURITY #ECONOMY #GS2 #IR
- The UAE will, for the first time, hold a combat readiness war game with Indian and French warships at the trilateral naval exercises Varuna in the Persian Gulf
- The 19th edition of the Indian and French Navy bilateral exercise ‘VARUNA-2021’ is scheduled to be conducted in the Arabian Sea from 25th to 27th April 2021.
Vital points relating to the exercise
- This is the first time that the UAE is participating in the Varuna maritime exercise. India and France have been holding the exercise since 1993;
- it was christened Varuna in 2001.
- Officials said the Indian Navy’s sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya would not join the exercise since it is under maintenance. But the Indian Navy’s participation will seek to make up for INS Vikramaditya’s absence by sending two to three destroyers (possibly led by INS Kolkata, the lead ship of the navy’s Kolkata-class stealth guided-missile destroyers) and frigates, an attack submarine, a P-8I maritime reconnaissance, and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
- The Charles de Gaulle carrier strike force comprises two frigates and a replenishment tanker.
- The French aircraft carrier and its strike group have been in the neighborhood for weeks; Charles de Gaulle arrived in the Arabian Sea in mid-March for operations relating to Afghanistan and has held dual operations with the United States aircraft supercarrier Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.
- According to the two navies, the two strike groups, which are conducting dual operations, are cooperating at levels of integration that has been “rarely achieved in the past”.
- From the Indian Navy’s side, guided-missile stealth destroyer INS Kolkata, guided-missile frigates INS Tarkash and INS Talwar, Fleet Support Ship INS Deepak, with Seeking 42B and Chetak integral helicopters, a Kalvari class submarine, and P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, will participate in the exercise.
- The French Navy will be represented by the Aircraft Carrier Charles-de-Gaulle with Rafale-M fighter, E2C Hawkeye aircraft and helicopters Caïman M and Dauphin embarked, Horizon-class Air defense destroyer Chevalier Paul, Aquitaine-class multi-mission frigate FNS Provence with a Caïman M helicopter embarked and Command and supply ship Var.
- The Indian side will be led by Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, Nau Sena Medal, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, while the French side will be led by Rear Admiral Marc Aussedat, Commander Task Force 473.
- The three-day exercise will see high tempo-naval operations at sea, including advanced air defence and anti-submarine exercises, intense fixed and rotary wing flying operations, tactical maneuvers, surface, and anti-air weapon firings, underway replenishment, and other maritime security operations.
- Units of both navies will endeavor to enhance and hone their war-fighting skills to demonstrate their ability as an integrated force to promote peace, security, and stability in the maritime domain.
- On completion of exercise VARUNA-21, to consolidate accrued best practices and enhance interoperability, the Indian Navy’s guided-missile frigate INS Tarkash will continue to exercise with the French Navy’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) from 28th April to 1st May 2021. During this period, the ship will take part in advanced surface, anti-submarine, and air-defense operations with the French CSG.
Significance of the ongoing exercise
- VARUNA-21 highlights growing bonhomie and showcases increased levels of synergy, coordination and inter-operability between the two friendly navies.
- These interactions further underscore the shared values as partner navies, in ensuring freedom of seas and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order.