IAF chief Bhadauria leaves for five-day France visit
The Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, on Monday left for France on an official visit. The visit of the chief of air staff (CAS) from April 19 to 23 is aimed at bolstering the level of interaction between the two air forces. Only last year, General Philippe Lavigne, Chief of Staff, French Air and Space Force (FASF), had visited India.
Bhadauria will hold meetings and discussions with senior military leadership of France and visit operational facilities and airbases. The IAF took to Twitter to announce his visit to France. “Air Chief Mshl RKS Bhadauria, CAS embarked on an official visit to France today on an invitation from Gen Philippe Lavigne, Chief of Staff @Armee_de_lair. The visit from Apr 19-23 will enhance potential avenues for strengthening the level of interaction between the two Air Forces,” it tweeted.
The two air forces have seen significant operational interaction in the recent past. IAF and FASF engage in the bilateral air exercise series, Garuda, as well as hop exercises, the last being exercise Desert Knight 21 held at Air Force Station, Jodhpur, in January 2021. They also participated in exercise Desert Flag hosted by UAE Air Force along with other friendly countries in March 2021.
It is understood that during his France visit, Bhadauria will also flag off six Rafale fighter jets from Merignac-Bordeaux airbase in France on April 21, setting the stage for activating the second Rafale squadron at Hasimara in West Bengal, people familiar with the matter said.
The arrival of the six Rafale jets will raise the number of the Omni-role fighters with the IAF to 20 of the 36 contracted Rafale jets to India.