New Delhi: The Ministry of Defence on Tuesday (January 19, 2021) announced that the newly inducted Rafale fighter jets are going to be part of the bilateral air exercise ‘Desert Knight-21’ between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and French Air and Space Force.
The Rafale fighters jets will be part of the IAF and French Air and Space Force (Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace) bilateral air exercise that will be conducted at the Air Force Station in Jodhpur between January 20 and January 24.
“French side will participate with Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft and approximately 175 personnel. The Indian Air Force aircraft participating in the exercise will include Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI, Rafale, IL-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS and AEW&C aircraft,” said the Ministry of Defence.
The exercise marks an important milestone in the series of engagements between the two Air forces.
Notably, as part of Indo-French defence cooperation, Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force have held six editions of Air Exercises named ‘Garuda’, the latest being in 2019 at Air Force Base Mont-de-Marsan, 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 IAF at 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 will ferry in forces to Air Force Station Jodhpur.
The exercise includes fielding of Rafale aircraft by both sides and is indicative of the growing interaction between the two premier Air Forces.
As the two detachments commence their air exchange from January 20 onwards, they will put into practice operational experience gained across terrains and spectrums and endeavour to exchange ideas and best practices to enhance interoperability.