Desert Knight 21: Indo-French bilateral air exercise to deepen defence ties

at 12:47 pm
Desert Knight 21

New Delhi (NVI): Indian Air Force (IAF) and French Air and Space Force are going to conduct a bilateral Air exercise – Ex Desert Knight-21 – at Air Force Station Jodhpur, Rajasthan, from January 20 to 24, 2021, which will mark an important milestone in the Indo-French defence cooperation.

IAF aircraft participating in the exercise will include Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI, Rafale, IL-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS and AEW&C aircraft, according to a statement released by Ministry of Defence.

About 175 Air Force personnel from the French side will participate with Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport, A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft, the statement added.

The exercise is unique as it includes fielding of Rafale aircraft by both sides and is indicative of the growing interaction between the two premier Air Forces.

As part of defence cooperation, India and France have held six editions of Air Exercises named ‘Garuda’, the latest being in 2019 at Air Force Base Mont-de-Marsan, France, the statement further read.

As measures to further the existing cooperation, the two forces have been gainfully utilising available opportunities to conduct ‘hop-exercises’.

The French Air and Space Force deployment while ferrying to Australia for Ex Pitchblack in 2018 was hosted by IAF at Air Force Stations Agra and Gwalior for exercise with fighters and MRTT aircraft.

Presently, the French detachment for Ex Desert Knight-21 is deployed in Asia as part of their ‘Skyros Deployment’ and will ferry in forces to Air Force Station Jodhpur, Defence Ministry added.

As the two detachments commence their air exchange from January 20 onwards, they will put into practice operational experience gained across terrains and spectrums and endeavour to exchange ideas and best practices to enhance interoperability.