Months after navies of the member nations of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad, participated in Malabar wargaming exercise in November, navies and aircraft of India, the US, Japan and Australia are participating in yet another exercise, along with the French military, in the eastern Indian Ocean region this week.
The La Pérouse exercise is taking place from April 5 to April 7 and is being led by the French Navy.
The Indian Navy said in a statement on Monday that “exercise La Pérouse will witness complex and advanced naval operations including surface warfare, anti-air warfare and air defence exercises, weapon firing exercises, cross deck flying operations, tactical manoeuvres and seamanship evolutions such as replenishment at sea” and will “showcase high levels of synergy, coordination and inter-operability between the friendly navies”.
The first edition of the La Pérouse joint exercise, initiated by France in 2019, included ships from Australia, Japan and the USA. The Embassy of France in India had said in a statement in March that ‘this year, for the first time, India is also joining this initiative for a large-scale five-country naval exercise that will provide an opportunity for these five like-minded, high-end naval forces to develop closer links, sharpen their skills, and promote maritime cooperation throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific”.
Indian Navy said in its statement that its participation in the exercise “demonstrates the shared values with friendly navies ensuring freedom of seas and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order”.
It added that INS Satpura, with its helicopter, INS Kiltan, along with P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, are participating “for the first time in multi-lateral maritime exercise La Pérouse, being conducted in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region”. It mentioned that the Indian Navy ships and aircraft will exercise at sea with ships and aircraft of French Navy (FN), Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) and United States Navy (USN) during the three day exercise at sea”.
“The exercise La Pérouse, led by French Navy, has participation by FN Ships Tonnerre, an amphibious assault ship and frigate Surcouf. United States Navy is represented in the exercise by amphibious transport dock ship Somerset. Her Majesty’s Australian Ships (HMAS) Anzac, a frigate and tanker Sirius have been deployed by RAN for participation in the exercise while Japan Maritime Self Defence Ship (JMSDF) is represented by the destroyer Akebono. In addition to the ships, integral helicopters embarked onboard ships will also participate in the exercise,” the Navy said.
French Navy ships, the Tonnerre and the Surcouf, which are participating in the exercise, had made a port call in Kochi from March 30 to April 1, after which they sailed to the Bay of Bengal for the exercise.
The French Embassy in India has said in a statement on March 31 that he two warships from the battlegroup Jeanne d’Arc set sail from France in February 2021 for a five-month-long deployment in the Indo-Pacific region with the aim of providing training for the new cohort of 148 on-board French naval officer cadets, demonstrating France’s capacity to deploy assets in strategic areas, and strengthening interoperability with major partners in the Indo-Pacific, particularly India, France’s foremost strategic partner in Asia.
The French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain had said at that time said, “I look forward to the La Pérouse joint exercise, during which these two French Navy ships will be joined by ships from India, Australia, Japan, and the USA for a concrete demonstration of multilateralism at sea and our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
France and India will hold a large-scale Varuna bilateral exercise in the Western Arabian Sea which will involve the French aircraft carrier battle group in the coming months.