Amid tensions on the border with China, the Indian Air Force (IAF) kickstarted the first major international wargames involving its Rafale fighter jets in Jodhpur on Wednesday with their French counterparts.
As part of the first edition of the exercise Desert Knight-21, four French Rafale fighters landed in Jodhpur after flying directly for around four hours from the Djibouti airbase using their A-330 multirole tanker transport aircraft which also landed here.
Exercise Desert Knight-21, is being at Jodhpur Air Force Station from January 20 to January 24 this year. The French are participating with Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft and approximately 175 personnel.
The IAF aircraft participating in the exercise include Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI, Rafale, IL-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS and AEW&C aircraft.
The exercise marks an important milestone in the series of engagements between the two air forces.
As part of Indo-French defence cooperation, the Indian Air Force and the French Air and Space Force held six editions of air exercises named ‘Garuda’ – the latest being in 2019 at Air Force Base Mont-de-Marsan in France.
As measures to further the existing cooperation, the two forces have been gainfully utilising available opportunities to conduct ‘hop-exercises’.
The French Air and Space Force deployment, while ferrying to Australia for Ex Pitchblack in 2018, was hosted by the IAF at the air force stations in Agra and Gwalior for exercise with fighters and MRTT aircraft. Currently, the French detachment for Ex Desert Knight-21 is deployed in Asia as part of their ‘Skyros Deployment’ and has ferried in forces to Air Force Station Jodhpur.