This marks the first time that Rafales from the Indian Air Force will participate in an overseas exercise
Indian and French Rafale fighter aircraft will fly together during the Exercise Orion 2023 which began on Monday (April 17, 2023).

This is a significant milestone for the Indian Air Force IAF) as it marks the first time its Rafale fighters will participate in an overseas exercise.

The IAF will participate in Exercise Orion 23 with other participating air units at the Mont-de-Marsan airfield of the French Air and Space Force (FASF) from April 17 to May 5, 2023.

The IAF contingent included four Rafale, two C-17, two ll-78, and 165 soldiers. Before arriving in France, the IAF team made a quick stop in Egypt.

Taking to Twitter, French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain said, "France warmly welcomes the @IAF_MCC contingent that will take part in exercise #Orion2023 from today! French & Indian #Rafale jets will soon fly together in the skies of France."

Exercise Orion 2023 at Mont-de-Marsan is an opportunity for the IAF to showcase its capabilities and learn from other participating air forces.

Orion is regarded as the largest international exercise conducted by the French armed services. In addition to the IAF and the FASF, this multilateral exercise will also involve the air forces of Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, and the United States of America.

Participation in this exercise would further enrich the employment philosophy of the India Air Force, by imbibing the best practices from other Air Forces, the Ministry of Defence had said last week.

The multi-role Rafale jets, built by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, are known for air superiority and precision strikes. India had ordered 36 Rafale aircraft to equip two Indian Air Force squadrons - the 101 Squadron and the Golden Arrows’ 17 Squadron - with a complement of 18 fighters each.

The first of these 'game-changer' Rafale fighter aircraft had landed at the Ambala Air Force Base in July 2022.