With the objective of expanding their strategic partnership in the Indian Ocean region (IOR), India and France will conduct their largest ever naval exercise 'Varuna'. As per English daily, The Times of India, the exercise will be conducted early next month and will witness the participation of aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines and fighters. Sources have confirmed that India will deploy its aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya with its MiG-29K fighters. Similarly, the French Navy will send its aircraft carrier FNS Charles de Gaulle with its Rafale-M naval jets, and other warships for the "Varuna" exercise.
One of the people close to the development said, "It will be a top-level naval exercise, with intensive dual carrier task group operations and anti-submarine warfare manoeuvres. India and France are also working to implement their action-oriented joint strategic vision for cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which was finalised in March 2018."
Notably, the reciprocal military logistics support agreement between the two nations is now operationalized with French anti-aircraft destroyer FNS Cassard docking at the Mumbai naval port. As per the agreement, Indian Navy can access French bases located in the India ocean region including the Reunion Islands near Madagascar and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. Furthermore, France also has a naval air station in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and a military base at Mayotte in the Comoros archipelago off the coast of south-east Africa which can be accessed by Indian defence forces.
India has inked a similar agreement with the United States. The two countries have signed Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) that will enable both countries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of defence supplies. India, with the help of this mutual logistical agreement, is planning to contain China who is aggressively expanding its strategic footprint in the IOR with tits debt-trap policy.
France will be dispatching its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, destroyers, FNS Forbin, FNS Provence and FNS Latouche Treville, nuclear attack submarine FNS Amethyste and tanker FNS Marne for the Exercise "Varuna". On the other hand, Indian Navy will send INS Vikramaditya, with MiG-29K fighters on board and helicopters, diesel-electric submarine INS Shankul, guided-missile destroyer INS Chennai, stealth frigate INS Tarkash, tanker INS Deepak, P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft and Dornier-228 planes.