French carrier in Indian waters for drill

7:43:00 AM
NEW DELHI, --  French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, heading a battlegroup of ships involved in strikes against the Islamic State from the Persian Gulf, will be in the Arabian Sea next month for 10 days of war games with the Indian Navy.

The exercise, the latest of a series named "Varuna", will also involve India's aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, other Indian warships and a submarine.

The nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle carries on board the navalised Rafale fighter jet that also landed on and took off from the American USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier earlier this month in the Persian Gulf.

Aircraft from the Carl Vinson and the Charles de Gaulle are bombing suspected IS targets in Iraq and Syria. India has said it supports Iraq in its war against the IS.

The Indian Air Force is currently in negotiations with France to buy 126 Rafale aircraft, of the kind that the French Air Force uses. The navalised version on board the Charles de Gaulle will give the Indian Navy first-hand experience of the fighter jet.

It is a stated policy of the Indian armed forces to achieve synergy in operations by using platforms that are common. But the Indian Navy has not opened any talks to procure the Rafale. The navalised version of the aircraft is adapted to land and take off from carriers. The Indian Navy's main fighter jet is the Russian MiG29K. The fleet is being integrated with the Vikramaditya.

The exercise to be held in the western coast will begin on April 23 and continue till May 3. Defence sources said the French will also bring two destroyers and a support ship.

India conducted 28 military drills with forces of foreign countries last year. So far this year, there has been only one.

The  French Navy (Marine Nationale)  nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91). The ship carries a complement of Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard, Dassault Rafale M and E‑2C Hawkeye aircraft, EC725 Caracal and AS532 Cougar helicopter for combat search and rescue, as well as modern electronics and Aster missiles.

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