IAF ready to tackle any challenge from Leh to Kanyakumari, says Rafale pilot
Indian Air Force's (IAF) Rafale fighter jet pilot and Squadron Leader Sarthak Kumar on Saturday asserted that the force is ready to undertake any challenge from Leh to Kanyakumari, with their fleet of Rafale jets.
Kumar, who was part of the IAF and the French Air and Space Force's bilateral exercise 'Desert Knight-21' at the Air Force Station Jodhpur being held from January 20 to 24, said that it was a great learning experience.
"IAF is ready to undertake any challenge from Leh to Kanyakumari. The Rafale fleet is ready to undertake any operation. Rafale is not only able to operate in different parts of the county but across the world. It is able to complete all the tasks that any fourth-generation or fifth-generation fighter can do," Kumar told ANI.
"The Rafales we (IAF) have are the fastest and most advanced as of now," said the Rafale pilot, when asked if Indian Rafales were more advanced than their French counterparts.
Kumar further said that the 'Desert Knight-21' was a successful exercise.
"This has been a really important exercise for the integration of Rafale in the operations of the IAF. The basics of all these exercises were all about cooperation, learning from each other's experiences while operating in different terrains, spectrum and thereafter applying it to enhance our operational capability. So this has been a really successful exercise," he said.
"We have flown with their (France) pilots in Rafale cockpits. We learned from them what they do in different situations and similarly, they have also learned from us. Both of us learned great lessons," he added.
India and France have fielded a number of fighter jets in the exercise which include Rafales of two sides besides Mirages and the Sukhois of the Indian Air Force.
The French are participating in the exercise with Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft and approximately 175 personnel.
The IAF aircraft participating in the exercise include Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI, Rafale, IL-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft, Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) and an AEW&C aircraft.