New Delhi (NVI): The Indian Rafale fighter jets will be taking part in an exercise with the Russian air force for the first time in a five-day joint military drill that will take place in Jodhpur in Rajasthan from January 20 to 24.
The Indo-French joint exercise, codenamed as ‘Ex-Desert Knight 21’ will see Rafale jets from the air forces of both countries engaging in complex maneuvers to enhance operational coordination.
“Indian Air Force is hosting the French Air and Space Force (Armée de l’Air et de I’Espace) at Air Force Station Jodhpur for Ex-Desert Knight 21, a bilateral Air exercise from 20 to 24 Jan 21. The French forces are currently deployed in Asia as part of their ‘Skyros Deployment’, and will transit through India,” read an official statement in this regard.
Notably, the Indian Air Force received the first batch of five Rafale jets in July last year. The first batch was received nearly four years after the Indian government inked a deal with France to procure 36 of the aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
“The aim of the exercise is to provide operational exposure and share best practices towards enhancing combat capability. Both the forces will participate with Fighter, Transport, and Tanker aircraft,” read the official statement.
The current exercise is in addition to the ‘Garuda’ series that the two Air Forces engage in, and is indicative of the earnestness of Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force to enhance and further mutual co-operation by making use of the available opportunities for fruitful interaction, it said.
Also, the exercise is taking place at a time when India and China are locked in a tense border row in the Ladakh sector. The IAF has already deployed the newly inducted Rafale fighter jets along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh sector where the military is on its highest state of alert to deal with any misadventure by China.
IAF’s current fleet of five Rafale fighters, which was inducted in Golden Arrows Squadron, is fully operational, especially in the wake of India-China border tensions.