The French Navy participation included the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its carrier air wing (Rafale Marine fighter jets, E-2C Hawkeye AEW aircraft, NH90NFH Caïman and Dauphin naval helicopters), the Provence FREMM frigate, Chevalier Paul air defense frigate, and Var command and supply ship.
From the Indian Navy’s side, INS Kolkata guided missile stealth destroyer, INS Tarkash and INS Talwar guided missile frigates, INS Deepak Fleet Support Ship, with Seaking 42B and Chetak helicopters, a Kalvari-class submarine and P8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft are participating.
After completion of VARUNA 2021, INS Tarkash will continue to exercise with the French Navy’s CSG from 28th April to 1st May 2021. During this period, the ship will take part in advanced surface, anti-submarine and air-defence operations with the French CSG.
The exercise witnessed high tempo-naval operations at sea, including advanced air defence and anti-submarine exercises, intense fixed and rotary wing flying operations including cross deck helicopter landings, tactical manoeuvres, surface and anti-air weapon firings, underway replenishment and other maritime security operations. Units of both navies honed and enhanced their war-fighting skills to demonstrate their ability as an integrated force to promote peace, security and stability in the maritime domain […] The seamless coordination, precise execution of manoeuvres, and accuracy in complex exercises characterized the conduct of Varuna-2021 and has helped further strengthen mutual confidence, inter-operability and sharing of best practices between both Navies.
Indian MoD statement
Initiated in 1983, the Indo-French naval cooperation plays a key role in the two countries’ joint vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. It has intensified in recent years with increasingly ambitious joint exercises that have raised the degree of the two navies’ interoperability to a new level. In early April, the Indian Navy took part for the first time in the France-led naval exercise “La Pérouse” with the navies of the United States, Australia and Japan.
The “Varuna” joint exercise is part of the Clemenceau 2021 deployment the French Navy is conducting from February to June 2021 in the eastern Mediterranean, the Gulf and the Indian Ocean (Arabian Sea). Its goal is to contribute to the stabilization of strategic zones and strengthening cooperation with the navies of partner countries, in particular India for the Indian Ocean component. As part of this deployment, the carrier strike group is also taking part in anti-ISIS operations.