New Delhi, Jan 18: For the first time, French and Indian and Rafale jets would be flying and exercising together during the Desert Knight-21 war games scheduled between January 20 and 24 in Jodhpur, a government source said.
The Indian Air Force is hosting the French Air and Space Force (Armee de l’Air et de I’Espace) at Air Force Station Jodhpur for Ex-Desert Knight 21, a bilateral Air exercise. The French forces are currently deployed in Asia as part of their ‘Skyros Deployment’, and will transit through India.
The aim of the exercise is to provide operational exposure and share best practices towards enhancing combat capability. Both the forces will participate with Fighter, Transport, and Tanker aircraft.
Source said that the current exercise is in addition to the ‘Garuda’ series that the two Air Forces engage in, and is indicative of the earnestness of Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force to enhance and further mutual co-operation by making use of the available opportunities for fruitful interaction.
“Both the Air Forces will be operating with the Rafale, war gaming various scenarios in Jodhpur,” said the source adding that other fighters jets like Sukhoi 30s and Mirage would also be part of the war drill.
India has signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of these aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
A total eight Rafale jets have been inducted into the Indian Air Force out of a total of 36 that will form two squadrons.
By 2023 both squadrons compromising 18 Rafale jets each will be fully ready. The first squadron will be operational from Ambala on the Western sector, the other one will come up in Hashimara in West Bengal to combat the Chinese threat.
The Rafale is considered an omni-role aircraft, which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie simultaneously. It is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture.
The fighter aircraft have HAMMER missiles. They will also be armed with beyond visual range missiles such as Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.