Ex Desert Knight 2021: Indian, French Rafale fighters participate in 4-day drill
The Indian and French detachments put into practice operational experience gained across terrains and spectrums
The Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force have successfully conducted Ex Desert Knight 2021 at Air Force Station Jodhpur, with the highlight being the use of Rafale aircraft by both sides to promote effective combat deployment.
As part of a first-of-its-kind four-day bilateral exercise which ended on Saturday, Rafale aircraft from both sides along with Su-30 MKI and Mirage 2000 aircraft of the IAF undertook complex missions including Large Force Engagements.
Combat enablers included AWACS, AEW&C aircraft of the IAF as well as A400M and A330 based MRTT (Medium Range Tanker and Transport) aircraft of the FASF. Both Air Forces exercised in realistic settings with an aim to enhance operational capabilities and interoperability.
"The exercise provided an opportunity to share best practices and evolve operational concepts; particularly for effective combat employment of the Rafale fleet," the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat visited Air Force Station Jodhpur on Thursday and interacted with the participating forces. He also flew on-board the MRTT along with Maj Gen Laurent Lherbette, the FASF contingent leader where he was given an overview on conduct of the exercise and witnessed air-to-air refuelling operations by IAF & FASF fighters.
On Saturday, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria visited Air Force Station Jodhpur along with the Ambassador of France to India Mr Emmanuel Lenain. They were received by Air Marshal SK Ghotia PVSM VSM AOC-in-C SWAC.
The Air Chief interacted with members of IAF and FASF contingents. He expressed his appreciation on the complexity of operations conducted and interoperability achieved by participants within a short span of 4 days.
According to the defence ministry statement, he also commended the planning, operational and maintenance staff from both sides for smooth and safe conduct of the exercise. CAS wished the FASF contingent the very best for the next phase of their Skyros deployment.
The 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.
In 2018, the French Air and Space Force deployment while ferrying to Australia for Ex Pitchblack was hosted by IAF at Air Force Stations Agra and Gwalior for an exercise with fighters and MRTT aircraft.
During the latest exercise, the Indian and French detachments put into practice operational experience gained across terrains and spectrums and endeavored to exchange ideas and best practices to enhance interoperability.