Indian, French Rafale jets set to take part in war games in Rajasthan
- The exercise has been codenamed 'Desert Knight 21'.
The air forces of India and France will conduct a joint exercise at the Jodhpur air force station from January 20 to 24 to share best practices, officials familiar with the development said on Monday. Rafale fighter jets from both air forces will take part in the joint exercise that will also see the participation of mid-air refuelling aircraft and transport planes, the officials said.
The exercise has been codenamed 'Desert Knight 21'. The French forces are currently deployed in Asia as part of their ‘Skyros Deployment’ and are transiting through India. The exercise is taking place at a time when India and China are locked in a tense border row in the Ladakh sector.
Hindustan Times reported on January 1 that Rafale fighters of the French air force will land in Rajasthan this month to participate in joint exercises with the IAF’s Golden Arrows Squadron that was resurrected last September with the induction of the Rafale fighter jets. The Rafale jets will be taking part in an exercise with a foreign air force for the first time.
The IAF’s solitary Rafale squadron will add more muscle with the arrival of at least three more fighter jets by the month-end. The delivery of the three jets will take the number of Rafales in the IAF's inventory to 11. India has ordered 36 warplanes from France for ₹59,000 crore.
“The aim of the exercise is to provide operational exposure and share best practices towards enhancing combat capability,” an official said on the condition of anonymity. The current exercise is in addition to the Garuda series of drills that the two air forces conduct.
The IAF is operating its Rafale fighter jets in the Ladakh theatre where the military is on its highest state of alert to deal with any misadventure by China. Its current fleet of five Rafale fighters is fully operational and ready to undertake any mission, the officials said.
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