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French Ships Reach India for Quad-Plus Naval Exercise

french navy
Image courtesy Marine Nationale

Published Apr 5, 2021 10:36 PM by Ankur Kundu

For the first time, India is joining a French-led naval exercise with the other members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad)

The exercise – which launched on Monday - comes less than a month after India, the United States, Japan, and Australia held their maiden Quad Leaders Summit on March 12. It will also be the first time that the French Navy will be managing a joint drill with all four members of the Quad.

However, France's reason for joining the naval exercise should be noted. France has overseas territories in the Indian and Pacific Oceans; as China's dominance in the Asia-Pacific rises, Paris has security concerns in common with the Quad nations.

France has deployed its Carrier Battle Group to the Indian Ocean Region and will be participating in two major exercises - La Pérouse and Ex Varuna, a trilateral exercise with India and the UAE, which is set to take place in the western Indian Ocean.

As per an Indian Navy veteran, this move “underlines the importance France accords to the entire Indo-Pacific, where its economic and strategic interests including large EEZ interests extend from the Horn of Africa to beyond Polynesia.”

Recently, the French Navy amphibious assault helicopter carrier Tonnerre and frigate Surcouf were welcomed to the Indian port of Cochin, with the ships proceeding to the war games thereafter. Commodore Anil Jai Singh, Vice President of the Indian Maritime Foundation told Financial Express, “France has always maintained a significant naval presence in the Indian Ocean . . . and was also the first country to appoint an observer at the IOR-IFC (Indian Ocean Region Information Fusion Centre) set up by India on the outskirts of the national capital."

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, was initially established as a space for enhancing cooperation and safeguarding shared security as well as other interests in the Indo-Pacific region. The Quad is slowly gearing up to counter China’s meteoric military and economic rise seen in the last couple of decades; China considers the Quad alliance as a possible “Asian NATO” of the future.