Jodhpur: Indian and French air forces have started the ‘Desert Night 2021’ war exercises at Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Rafale fighter jets, recently commissioned in the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet, also participate in the exercises. Defence Chief General Bipin Rawat complimented that the IAF pilots acquired the necessary skills in a short span to exploit the potential of the Rafale fighter jets. Moreover, they did so for demonstrating their capabilities.
The joint war exercises between the IAF and the French air force started at Jodhpur in Rajasthan and will continue till Sunday. Defence Chief General Bipin Rawat was present during the exercises. The rafale, Sukhoi-30MKI and Mirage fighter jets from the IAF are participating in the exercises. General Rawat expressed confidence that with Rafale fighter jets’ inclusion, the IAF is now among the leading air forces of the world.
India France joint war exercises are being held since 2002. But the skill of the IAF pilots have been especially highlighted during this year’s exercises. General Rawat expressed satisfaction saying that it is proved that the IAF fighter pilots can train themselves in the shortest time, on any advanced fighter jets, and exploit its fullest potential. At the same time, General Rawat praised the French Multipurpose transport aircraft, MRTT, which participates in the exercises.
General Rawat said ‘MRTT, is a multipurpose aircraft and it can be used for transportation. This can be used for mid-air refuelling of other aircrafts, and if need be can be used as an emergency hospital.’ The Defence Chief informed that the Sukhoi and Mirage fighter jets of the IAF were refuelled mid-air, by the MRTT, during the exercises. Although the Defence Chief did not say it openly, India’s indications on purchasing these aircraft are being received from the Defence Chief’s statements.
Meanwhile, once again, the air exercises show that the military and defence cooperation between India and France is going from strength to strength. It had been reported some time back that India was preparing to by additional 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. There has been no official announcement in this respect. However, the former Airforce officials believe that the shortage of fighter jets, felt by the IAF, can be fulfilled by increasing the number of advanced fighter jets like Rafale.
France has expressed willingness to setup a manufacturing facility if India purchased more than 100 Rafale fighter jets. France is even willing for transfer of Rafale technology to India. France has proposed that 70% of the spares for the manufacture of Rafale jets will be sourced locally in India. It was also being claimed that France will be collaborating with India for developing the next version of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft.