Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh at Induction ceremony of Indian Air Force Rafale Fighters
PC : DD National

Marking an important milestone in the military cooperation, Indian Air Force (IAF) and French Air and Space Force (Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace) is going to conduct a bilateral Air exercise, Ex Desert Knight-21 from Wednesday. The four day drill which starts from Jan 20-24, 2021, will mark an important milestone in the series of engagement between the two forces. And will be at the Air Force Station Jodhpur in which IAF is sending in the French Mirage 2000, Rafale, the Russian Su-30 MKI, IL-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft, as well as the AWACS and AEW&C aircraft.

From the French side Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft and approximately 175 personnel are going to be part of Ex Desert Knight.

Who is hosting this?

This Ex is being hosted by the IAF and the French Air and Space Force (Armée de l’Air et de I’Espace).

According to the IAF, the French Forces which are currently deployed in Asia as part of their ‘Skyros Deployment’ will be participating in the drill while transiting through India.

What is the aim of this exercise?

Besides providing operational exposure, it will also help in sharing practices towards enhancing combat capability. From both sides, there will be fighter, transport and tanker aircraft.

This drill is in addition to the Ex Garuda in which the two Air Forces engage in. And indicates how the two Air Forces are keenly expanding their cooperation by making use of the available opportunities for more interaction.

What is unique about this exercise?

For the first time ever the Indian skies will be hosting Rafale aircraft by both sides.

And the two Air Forces will be exchanging ideas and best practices for enhancing interoperability and also putting into practice operational experience which they have gained across different terrains.

Indo-French Defence Cooperation

Both IAF and French Air and Space Force so far have had six editions of Air Exercises named ‘Garuda’. The last one they had was in 2019 at Air Force Base Mont-de-Marsan, France.

And for deepening cooperation, the two have been trying to use any available opportunity for conducting ‘Hop-Exercises’.

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

And this for Ex-Desert Knight, the French detachment for Ex Desert Knight-21 which is deployed in Asia as part of their ‘Skyros Deployment’ will be ferrying forces to Air Force Station Jodhpur.