The Indian Air Force (IAF) and French Air and Space Force are set to participate in Exercise Desert Knight-21. Exercise Desert Knight-21 aims to improve interoperability between the forces while exchanging ‘ideas and best practices’ gained from operational experience. The bilateral air exercise will be held at Jodhpur Air Force station in Rajasthan, India, from 20 to 24 January. According to the Indian Ministry of Defence, the most interesting part of the exercise is the participation of Rafales from both the air forces.
The Indian Air Force assets participating in the exercise will also include Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI, IL-78 flight refuelling aircraft, AWACS and AEW&C aircraft. Platforms such as Rafale, Airbus A-330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT), A-400M tactical transport aircraft and about 175 personnel from the French Air and Space Force will take part in the military drill. The joint drill marks a significant milestone ‘in the series of engagements’ between the two nations.
At present, 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. Under the Indo-French defence cooperation, IAF and French Air and Space Force have conducted six editions of air exercises named ‘Garuda’. The latest of these was held last year at Mont-de-Marsan AFB in France. The Air Forces of the two countries ‘have been gainfully utilising’ available options to hold ‘hop-exercises’ to further strengthen the existing defence ties.