Two Indian jets land on French flagship as war-games begin
MUMBAI - Two Indian jets landed on Sunday on a French aircraft carrier as the navies of the two countries began an exercise testing possible joint action against piracy and other threats, officials said.
An Indian navy spokesman said the 35,500-ton French carrier Charles De Gaulle was supported by destroyers, frigates and submarines in the week-long manoeuvres in the Arabian Sea.
“The exercise is a sign of the continuing and growing cooperation between India and France,” he said as two Indian Sea Harriers landed on the nuclear-powered French flagship.
One of the British-designed Harriers took off after landing but the second was stranded temporarily on board the French carrier due to a fuel shortage, the Press Trust of India quoted naval officials as saying.
India’s sole aircraft carrier Viraat is also taking part.
Rear Admiral Anup Singh, Indian fleet commander, said the exercise aimed at improving coordination.
“The two forces have to be ready for any possible joint operation to meet situations created by disasters, terrorism or piracy,” Singh told reporters.
The exercise, codenamed Varuna-II, comes less than two months since the controversial halting of a project to break up the former French aircraft carrier Clemenceau in an Indian shipyard, following protests by global environmental groups.
The two navies have staged joint exercises annually since 2001. Varuna-I was held in November 2005 off Djibouti in the Gulf of Aden.