New Delhi/Paris: The aircraft carriers from India and France will be participating in joint naval exercises in April. It is claimed that the information was given by naval sources, and it is said that discussions regarding the finalisation of the schedule are being held between the two navies. INS Vikramaditya from India and Nuclear Aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle from France will be participating in the exercises. The French Defence Minister is scheduled to visit India in April, and seven Rafale fighters will also be delivered in the same month.
The defence cooperation between India and France is becoming extremely strong over the last few years. The agreement for the purchase of Rafale fighter jets between India and France, the cooperation extended by France for the Scorpene submarines, France’s keenness to supply military aircraft to India and the willingness expressed by France to join the QUAD cooperation only endorse the strengthening ties. Only last month, Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Political Advisor to the French President Emmanuel Bunn held talks regarding a comprehensive defence cooperation agreement on the US-India agreement lines.
Taking all this background into account, the joint exercises between Indian and French aircraft carriers become significant. France became the first European country to send its warships and submarines to the Indo-Pacific sector after the United States. France also has announced its independent policy for the Indo-Pacific region, and the policy is Indian centric. Last year, French Defence Minister Florence Parly had proposed more joint exercises between the navies to strengthen naval cooperation. The practices in April seem to be a part of the same initiative.
French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle is on the Clemence 21 mission, along with two destroyers and support ships. Under the same mission, the fleet will be sailing through the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Sea and then to the Indian Ocean. The Rafale M fighter jets are deployed on the French aircraft carrier. The joint exercises between the Indian and French navies will be held in two phases. There will be two separate exercises, one in the Arabian Sea and the other in the Indian Ocean.
Indications are that the destroyers from the Indian Western Fleet will be joining INS Vikramaditya in the exercises. The new Chief of the Western Fleet Rear Admiral, Ajay Kochhar, will lead the Indian contingent. The MiG-21K fighter jets deployed on INS Vikramaditya will be participating in the exercises. Meanwhile, China is working on a conspiracy to restrict India to the Indian Ocean sector by deploying more and more of its warships in the industry. China is consistently making efforts that the Indian Navy is not able to increase its area of influence. But it has become mandatory for India to expand its Navy while the capacities of Indian trade and economy are growing. The Indian Navy is increasing its capabilities to safeguard the interests in the marine sector. The Indian Navy is consistently holding joint exercises with navies of different countries for this purpose. Against this background, the joint naval exercises with the French aircraft carrier become vital for India. India and France seem to be delivering a stern warning to China, trying to dominate the Indo-Pacific region.