India France Desert Knight 2021 military exercise: Indian Air Force Wednesday started Desert Knight exercise with French Air and Space force in desert state of Rajasthan in Western India. This is the first exercise involving Rafale fighter jets from both sides.
The French side has fielded its own Rafale fighter combat jets, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft and nearly 175 air warriors of French Air Force.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft participating in the exercise include newly inducted Rafale which the force inducted last year, Mirage 2000 which is also of French origin, Russian origin Sukhoi-30MKI air superiority fighters, Russian origin IL-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS and AEW&C aircraft.
As close military partners, India and France regularly conduct military exercise to increase the interoperability among their militaries.
India-France Garuda military exercise
As part of bilateral defence cooperation, Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force have held six editions of Garuda military exercise, the latest being in 2019 at Air Force Base Mont-de-Marsan, France.
The two militaries also engage specific hop exercises when they are in the vicinity of either India or France or passing through the nearby region as per their deployment requirement.
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.
Indian Air Force also hosted its French counterpart in Agra and Gwalior in 2018 when French contingent was on its way to Australia to participate in Pitchblack military exercise.
As the two air forces started the drill on Wednesday in Jodhpur airbase in Rajasthan, they will hone their war fighting skills and enhance interoperability for any joint missions in future.