Panaji: The biggest Indo-French naval exercise yet, Varuna-19, concluded off Goa late on Friday with close range manouvers conducted by the carrier task forces of both the navies.
"Dignitaries from both navies visited the French carrier task force and were briefed on the conduct of the exercise. An impressive flypast consisting of four Rafale, five MiG 29-Ks and one Hawkeye was witnessed by Flag Officer Commander in Chief of the Western region and the French Ambassador to India and nine French dignitaries onboard the French Carrier Charles De Gaulle," a statement issued by the Indian Navy said.
The exercise concluded with the Indian Navy and French Navy helicopters carrying out extensive cross deck operations for personnel transfer, the statement also said.
The bilateral naval exercise initiated in 1983 and christened as 'Varuna' in 2001, forms a vital part of the Indo-French strategic partnership and has grown in scope and complexity over the years.
The harbour phase of the exercise concluded on May 6, while the sea phase which has already witnessed air-to-air combat, air defence exercises, anti-submarine exercises and surface shoots, started on May 7.
French nuclear powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, and French Navy ships Provence, La Touche Treville, Forbin and tanker Marne along with a submarine conducted inter-operability exercises along with Indian naval ships INS Chennai, INS Mumbai, INS Tarkash, tanker INS Deepak and a submarine.