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Indian, French air chiefs fly in Jodhpur exercise, discuss military cooperation

Gen Mille also met the Chief of the Army Staff Gen Manoj Pande and Vice Chief of the Navy Vice Admiral S N Ghormade
alyan Ray
Last Updated : 08 November 2022, 19:51 IST
Last Updated : 08 November 2022, 19:51 IST
Last Updated : 08 November 2022, 19:51 IST
Last Updated : 08 November 2022, 19:51 IST

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The Air Chiefs of India and France on Tuesday flew in fighter jets in a military drill at Jodhpur in what may be yet another sign of enhancing the bilateral ties between the two countries that enjoy a deep-rooted strategic relationship.

While Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari took a sortie in an Indian Air Force Rafale fighter jet, the French Air and Space Force Chief General Stéphane Mille flew in an IAF Su-30MKI.

The two Chiefs were present at the ongoing seventh edition of Indo-French air exercise Garuda, which is in progress in the Rajasthan city. The first, third and fifth editions were conducted in India in 2003, 2006 and 2014 at Air Force Stations Gwalior, Kalaikunda and Jodhpur, respectively. The second, fourth and sixth editions were conducted in France in 2005, 2010 and 2019.

Asked about the IAF’s requirement of modern fighter jets, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said it was very important for India to add 4.5 generation aircraft to its inventory. “Definitely, we require 4.5 generation aircraft, five to six squadrons of these aircraft (Rafale) to meet immediate requirements.”

Exercise Garuda VII is also the first occasion for the LCA Tejas and the recently inducted LCH Prachand to participate in any international exercise.

Other aircraft in the exercise are four FASF Rafale fighters and one A-330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft from France and Su-30 MKI, Rafale and Jaguar fighter aircraft, Mi-17 helicopters and the refuelling aircraft from the Indian side.

The exercise that began on Oct 26 would culminate on November 12. French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said that the exercise provided an opportunity to the two forces to learn to operate together. "It is a great occasion to continue to build our common history for forces to learn how to operate together, to be more inter-operable and conduct joint operations by training together," he told ANI in an interview.

Earlier the two Air Chiefs had talks on enhancing bilateral military cooperation. Gen Mille also met the Chief of the Army Staff Gen Manoj Pande and Vice Chief of the Navy Vice Admiral S N Ghormade.

The bilateral air exercise comes months after a French Air and Space Force contingent including three Rafale jets, made a strategically crucial stopover at the IAF's Sulur base in Tamil Nadu in August as part of a mega military operation it carried out in the Pacific Ocean.

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Published 08 November 2022, 19:51 IST

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