India and France carrying out mega air exercise in Jodhpur
The Indian and French air forces are undertaking an 18-day military exercise in Jodhpur involving a significant number of combat jets such as Rafale, Tejas, Jaguar and Sukhoi-30s to further enhance operational cooperation, officials said on Friday.
The 'Garuda VII' exercise began on October 26 and will culminate on November 12.
The French Air and Space Force (FASF) has participated in the exercise with four Rafale fighter jets, one A-330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft and a contingent of 220 personnel, the officials said.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has deployed Sukhoi-30 MKI jets, Rafales, Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Jaguar jets, Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) and Mi-17 helicopters, they said.
The IAF contingent will also include combat enabling assets like flight refuelling aircraft, AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) and AEW&C (Airborne Early Warning and Control) aircraft.
"This joint exercise will provide a platform for both the countries to enhance operational capability and interoperability, while also sharing best practices," the IAF said in a release.
It is the seventh edition of the bilateral exercise. The first, third and fifth editions were conducted in India in 2003, 2006 and 2014 at Air Force stations Gwalior, Kalaikunda and Jodhpur, respectively.
The second, fourth and sixth editions were conducted in France in 2005, 2010 and 2019.
"Participation of the IAF and FASF in this exercise will promote professional interaction, exchange of experiences and enhancement of operational knowledge, besides strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries," the IAF said.
The military cooperation between India and France has witnessed a major expansion in the last few years.
In August, a French Air and Space Force contingent, including three Rafale jets, made a strategically crucial stopover at the IAF's Sulur base in Tamil Nadu as part of a mega military operation it carried out in the Pacific Ocean.
In March, the Indian and French navies carried out a five-day mega wargame in the Arabian Sea, involving frontline ships, submarines, maritime patrol aircraft, fighter aircraft and helicopters.
The Indian and French navies in April last year too carried out a mega wargame in the Arabian Sea.
The French Navy deployed its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, and its entire carrier strike group in that exercise, reflecting growing congruence in naval ties.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy is hosting the 29th edition of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) from October 26 to 30 at Visakhapatnam.
Two ships from the Singapore Navy, RSS Stalwart (a Formidable Class Frigate) and RSS Vigilance (a Victory Class Corvette) arrived in Visakhapatnam on October 25 for participation in the exercise.