Indo-French air exercises begin in Southern France
India and France began the fourth round of their joint air exercises, "Garuda", at the Istres Air Base in Southern France today.
The Singapore Air force is also participating for the first time in the exercise, which will conclude on June 25.
During Garuda, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the French Air Force would be engaged in various missions ranging from close combat engagement of large forces, slow mover protection, and protecting and engaging high value aerial assets.
"The focus of the air exercise is learning from each other’s best practices," IAF Contingent Commander Group Captain J Mishra said.
"The Air Defence operations would be central to our various manoeuvers. These would take place in AWACS and non-AWACS environment. The intensity of the exercise would be gradually increased throughout its duration so that we learn and absorb maximum from the exercise," he said.
During the exercise the IAF’s Special Forces "Garuds" will participate pro-actively and shall carry out jumps along with the French Special Forces.
The IL-76 aircraft, which are an integral part of the exercise flying missions, will practice static line drops with the French Special Forces. It may be recalled that the IAF is participating with six SU-30 MKIs, three IL-78s and one IL-76 aircraft.
The entire IAF contingent arrived at the Istres Air Force Base on June 12. The base is located near Istres, north of Marseilles in the Bouches-du-Rhone department of France. The base houses some of the world’s finest fighters and helicopters and serves multiple functions, including a repair facility and training grounds. The landing strip of this airbase is said to be the longest in Europe. The Istres Air Base was built before the World War II and has been of immense historical and operational importance.
French Air Force assets such as the mid-air refueller have commenced their participation in the exercise, an official spokesman said.
The SU-30 MKIs would be taking part in an exercise in France for the first time. Earlier, SU-30 KAs had participated.
The French Air Force will be participating in the exercise with their Mirage 2000s and Rafael aircraft. Singapore Air Force will be participating in the exercise with its F-16 Block 52 aircraft.
The exercise is aimed at enhancing and further cementing the close military ties between the Indian and French air forces.