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After naval exercise, French destroyer makes a port call at Mumbai en route to Kochi

Chevalier Paul is currently deployed in the Indian Ocean as part of France's permanent military presence in the region (Images courtesy: Twitter/@FranceinIndia and Indian Air Force)

France's Horizon-class air defence destroyer FNS Chevalier Paul is currently making a two-day port call at Mumbai in yet another instance of increasing Indo-French naval cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

The air defence frigate's visit to Western India takes place after both India and France had vowed to further strengthen bilateral defence and security partnership during National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval's visit to Paris, earlier this month.

Doval had co-chaired the annual Indo-French strategic dialogue with Emmanuel Bonne, Diplomatic Advisor to the French President Emmanuel Macron with Admiral Jean-Philippe Rolland, the Chief Military Advisor to Macron, also participating in the discussions.  

India and France

The Indian NSA had also met Florence Parly, France's Minister of Armed Forces as both countries underscored their commitment to deepening the Indo-French strategic partnership and strengthening its various aspects.

Just a week before Doval's visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Macron had met on the sidelines of the G20 in Rome during which France had stressed its continued commitment to the Indo Pacific region as a resident power and partnership with India as a major pillar of its Indo Pacific strategy.

Boardroom discussions to high-tempo naval operations 

According to the French Defence Ministry, Chevalier Paul is currently deployed in the Indian Ocean as part of France's permanent military presence in the region.

From Mumbai, it will move on to Kochi on Saturday, showing the "central role" that India plays in France's naval presence and strategy in the Indian Ocean.

Commissioned by the French Navy in 2011, the Chevalier Paul constitutes an essential element in the escort of a carrier strike or amphibious group. Their powerful detection and weapon system make them formidable units, being able to control a vast airspace and fulfill the full spectrum of missions of first-rate frigates.

Indian Air Force

Ahead of its port call in Mumbai, the ship took part in a large-scale Indo-French air and naval exercise on November 16-17 off the coast of Maharashtra.

This exercise brought together 16 Indian and French aircraft, including French Mirage 2000 and Rafale jets from the Abu Dhabi airbase, as well as the Chevalier Paul destroyer.

"It aimed to simulate a highly complex air attack and defence scenario. It pitted two teams – each comprising both French and Indian pilots – against each other, in a demonstration of the high level of interoperability achieved by the French and Indian forces," said the French Defence Ministry.

Earlier this year, Chevalier Paul took part in the 19th Indo-French 'Varuna' naval exercise as part of the French carrier strike group in the western Arabian Sea.

The exercise also saw the participation of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its entire carrier strike group.

Also Read: After AUKUS, will France spearhead a grand India-EU security partnership?