Source said that the current exercise is in addition to the 'Garuda' series that the two Air Forces engage in, and is indicative of the earnestness of Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force to enhance and further mutual co-operation by making use of the available opportunities for fruitful interaction.
French side will participate with Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft and approximately 175 personnel. The Indian Air Force aircraft participating in the exercise will include Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI, Rafale, IL-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS and AEW&C aircraft.
The exercise will mark an important milestone in the series of engagements between the two Air forces. As part of Indo-French defence cooperation, Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force have held six editions of Air Exercises named 'Garuda', the latest being in 2019 at Air Force Base Mont-de-Marsan, France.
As measures to further the existing cooperation, the two forces have been gainfully utilising available opportunities to conduct 'hop-exercises'. 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. By 2023 both squadrons compromising 18 Rafale jets each will be fully ready. The first squadron will be operational from Ambala on the Western sector, the other one will come up in Hashimara in West Bengal to combat the Chinese threat.
The fighter aircraft have HAMMER missiles. They will also be armed with beyond visual range missiles such as Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance. The exercise is unique as it includes fielding of Rafale aircraft by both sides and is indicative of the growing interaction between the two premier Air Forces. As the two detachments commence their air exchange from 20 Jan onwards, they will put into practice operational experience gained across terrains and spectrums and endeavour to exchange ideas and best practices to enhance interoperability.