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India kicks off much-awaited air exercise with French Air Force

Dassault Rafale fighter jet - Indian Air Force (Dylan Agbagni/Flickr)
January 25, 2021

On the path towards deepening military ties with one of the most established European powers, the Indian Air Force started joint air wargames with its French counterpart over the deserts of the Pokhran range. The exercise will aim to increase interoperability between both forces and give Indian pilots experience with the new Dassault Rafale’s IAF squadron.

Designated as “Desert Knight” from the previously named “SKYROS,” the wargames began at the Rajasthan sector of IAFs western air command region near the Pakistan border in Pokhran.

Part of Indo-French Defense Cooperation, the exercise will involve the participation of French and Indian Air force fighter aircraft fleet, composed of various aircraft from both sides. Wargames will be centered around Rafale jets, which India has recently inducted into its active operation.

“As part of Indo-French defense cooperation, the IAF and French Air and Space Force have held six editions of exercises named ‘Garuda’, the latest being in 2019 at Air Force Base Mont-de-Marsan, France,” the IAF said on the eve of the exercise.

“The French air force has also flown its A-400M military transport aircraft to Jodhpur for the exercise, they added. The French contingent consists of 175 personnel,” the IAF continued.

Fighter planes from both countries reached the Jodhpur Airbase on Wednesday. As part of the wargames, both the teams fired dummy missiles, and conducted various offensive and defensive maneuvers, with additional dodging and attacking from the side.

As part of the joint drill, both teams had a series of formations in the air for two hours and later discussed the potential of further drills and exchanged both teams’ experiences during the first phase of drills.

Both nations will continue with these exercises for the next three days. India and France have been engaging in various war exercises for years, and this exercise will help both countries gain immense operational experience through the drills over various terrains and war spectrums, adding enhancements in interoperability between both forces.