The seventh edition of the bilateral air exercise between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the French Air and Space Force (FASF), ‘Exercise Garuda-VII’ concluded at Air Force Station, Jodhpur on 12 November 2022.
The FASF participated in the exercise with Rafale fighter aircraft and A-330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft, while the IAF contingent comprised Su-30 MKI, Rafale, LCA ‘Tejas’, and Jaguar fighter aircraft. This fighter element was complemented by the IAF’s Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS, and AEW&C, as well as Mi-17 helicopters and the newly inducted LCH ‘Prachanda’.
Exercise Garuda-VII provided the two Air Forces with the opportunity for professional interaction and sharing of operational knowledge and experience. With meticulous planning and execution of various phases of the exercise, personnel of the IAF and the FASF were exposed to realistic air combat simulations and the associated Combat Support Operations.
This enabled the participating contingents to engage in wide-ranging interactions, providing valuable insight into each other’s best practices. The exercise also provided a platform for cultural exchange between the Air Force personnel of both countries. The seventh edition of the bilateral air exercise started on October 26.
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.
Growing defence ties between India and France
Over the last few years, the military cooperation between the two nations has grown fastly.
In August, Sulur base in Tamil Nadu hosted a French Air and Space Force contingent, including three Rafale jets as part of a mega military operation it carried out in the Pacific Ocean.
In March the five-day mega wargame between the two nations was conducted in the Arabian Sea. It involved frontline ships, submarines, maritime patrol aircraft, fighter aircraft, and helicopters.
Again in April, both France and Indian navies conducted a mega wargame in the Arabian Sea.
The French Navy deployed its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, and its entire carrier strike group in that exercise, reflecting growing congruence in naval ties.