India, France to hold Mega Air Exercise ‘Garuda’ in July

The Indian and French air forces will carry out a two-week-long mega air exercise beginning July 1 in France in a boost to military-to-military ties between the two countries. A fleet of Sukhoi 30 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force will engage in dogfights with France’s Rafale multirole aircraft in simulated scenarios as part of the ‘Garuda‘ exercise.

A large number of other assets including mid-air refueller will also be sent to France by the IAF. It will be one of the largest air exercise between the two strategic partners. The exercise will also provide an opportunity to a sizeable number of IAF pilots to have a close look at the Rafale jets being operated by the French Air Force, the officials said.

India had signed a government-to-government deal with France in 2016 to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of about the Rs 58,000-crore. The first Rafale jet is scheduled to be delivered in September. The air exercise will take place nearly two months after Indian and French navies carried out a naval warfare exercise in the Arabian Sea as well as in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.

French Navy’s aircraft carrier FNS Charles de Gaulle, two destroyers, FNS Forbin and FNS Provence, frigate FNS Latouche-Treville, tanker FNS Marne and a nuclear submarine participated in the exercise.

The first edition of the Garuda exercise was held in February 2003 in Gwalior.

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