India and France will conduct their largest ever naval exercise 'Varuna' off Goa Coast in May 2019 with objective of expanding their strategic partnership in Indian Ocean region (IOR). It will be top-level naval exercise, with intensive dual carrier task group operations and anti-submarine warfare manoeuvres,
For this exercise, France has dispatched its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier FNS Charles de Gaulle with its Rafale-M naval jets, FNS Forbin, FNS Provence and FNS Latouche Treville, nuclear attack submarine FNS Amethyste and tanker FNS Marne,
On the other hand, Indian Navy will be deploying 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
Varuna 2018 naval exercise comes after the successful operationalisation of the logistics support agreement between India and France under which Indian warships can access French bases like Reunion Islands in Indian Ocean near Madagascar and in Djibouti near strategically located Horn of Africa. Under this Indo-Frech pact, anti-aircraft destroyer FNS Cassard of France had docked at Mumbai naval port in January 2019. This is second such logistics support agreement signed by India after it had signed Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with United States (US) in 2016. Moreover, India and France are also working together to implement their action-oriented joint strategic vision for cooperation in IOR, which was finalised in March 2018.