Indo-French Naval exercises to start FridayMay 7th, 2008 - 11:36 pm ICT by admin
New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) The French navy’s largest amphibious assault ship Mistral, accompanied by missile frigates, will Thursday reach India’s eastern coast to participate in war games with the Indian Navy, starting Friday. Mistral, the 32,300-tonne French Landing Platform Dock, frigates and stealth ships will take part in the Varuna-2008 exercise to be held in the Bay of Bengal in the Eastern Sea Board, off Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, a navy official said.
This will be the first time that INS Jalashwa, the second largest ship of the Indian Navy acquired from the US, would be pitted against the French warship.
“The French Navy’s flotilla will reach the Eastern Sea Board tomorrow (Thursday) and the war games will commence on Friday after a briefing,” the official said.
Amphibious landing will be an important component of the exercise as the Indian Navy has expressed interest in the design of the Ship Landing Dock.
Mistral is capable of deploying 16 NH-90 medium helicopters and also has reinforced forward pod to accommodate 30-tonne helicopters such as the CH-53E Super Stallion.
The warship is capable of ferrying a whole armed battalion with 13 heavy tanks and 70 vehicles and has four landing barges.
The Indian Navy will be represented by several ships from its Eastern Fleet, including Rajput class missile destroyers, the spokesman added.
France was part of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) held in New Delhi this year as an Indian Ocean-rim country. Despite being a European country, France was invited for the symposium since some Indian Ocean islands, including the Reunion Island, are still part of France.
The Varuna series of joint exercises between the Indian and the French navies commenced in 2001 and have grown in scope and complexity over the years.