New Delhi: For the first time Indo-French joint patrols was held from the Reunion Island signaling New Delhi’s intent to engage with friendly foreign partners in expanding its footprint in the Indian Ocean focussing on the stretch between the East African coastline and the Malacca straits.
Notably, India has so far carried out Coordinated Patrols (CORPAT) only with maritime neighbours and rejected a similar offer by the US.
“The Indian Navy conducted a joint patrol with the French Navy last month from the Reunion Island. The patrol was conducted by a P-8I aircraft with French Navy personnel onboard,” defence sources said.
“We have robust engagement with the French”, they said. The surveillance was done in Southern Indian Ocean off Mauritius. “The P-8I was there for a week,” they said.
There was greater understanding between India and France on each other’s concerns, especially in the maritime domain, the source said. “They also have capacity constraints there and we can share responsibilities. The patrols will be periodical. There is no set pattern,” the source added.
“France is a safe country for us, there will be no concerns in conducting joint patrols with them,” the sources said, adding that this is why France was the first country selected to conduct joint patrols. France is also the first country to deploy a Liaison Officer at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre (IFC-IOR) as part of efforts to improve Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).
The joint patrols, along with other activities, are part of the Navy’s increasing engagement in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) through capacity-building and joint activities for improving MDA and interoperability.