September 22, 2023


IAF chief Marshal VR Chaudhari flew a French Air Force Rafale fighter jet, while French Air chief Gen Stéphane Mille took off in an Indian Russian-origin Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft during ‘Garuda VIl’ bilateral exercise in Jodhpur on Tuesday.

Enhancing bilateral ties and strengthening cooperation in areas of mutual interest, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Marshal VR Chaudhari flew a French Air Force Rafale fighter jet, while French Air chief Gen Stéphane Mille took off in an Indian Russian-origin Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft during ‘Garuda VIl’ bilateral exercise in Jodhpur on Tuesday, reported news agency ANI.

Mille met with Chaudhari at the IAF headquarters in New Delhi on Monday. The visit by Mile came amid an 18-day military exercise between the Indian and French air forces in Jodhpur.

Speaking at Jodhpur, Chaudhari said India has learnt how to carry forward its interoperability. “The French Air Force also flies Rafale, we also fly Rafale, but we fly many other aircraft along with Rafale. It’s important to learn how to interoperate with friendly nations,” ANI quoted the IAF chief as saying.

Chaudhari said it’s very important for India to add 4.5 generation aircraft to its inventory. “Definitely, we require 4.5 generation aircraft, five to six squadrons of these aircraft (Rafale) to meet immediate requirements.” the chief air chief marshal said.

On Saturday, the IAF said the two air chiefs discussed ways and means to enhance the bilateral ties.

“General Stéphane Mille, Chief of Staff of the French Air & Space Force called on Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, #CAS at Air HQ, New Delhi today. The two Chiefs discussed ways & means to enhance bilateral ties & strengthen cooperation in areas of mutual interest,” the Indian Air Force (IAF) tweeted.

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It is learnt that the overall situation in the Indo-Pacific as well as the Indian Ocean Region figured in the talks between Chaudhari and Mille.

The ‘Garuda VII’ exercise, involving a significant number of combat jets such as Rafale, Tejas, Jaguar and Sukhoi-30s, began on October 26 and will culminate on November 12.

“Garuda is one exercise that gives us this opportunity which exposes our pilots and crew to the best packages of the French Air and Space Force (FASF) and vice versa,” the IAF chief said.

Mille said, “We are here to fly together with Indian aircrew. Sometimes, with a simple act, we can do a lot. Doing this exercise, we are able to understand each other during the flight. It’s very important to be able to fly and operate together.”

The French military official also met Indian Army chief General Manoj Pande.

“General Manoj Pande #COAS interacted with General Stephane Mille, Chief of Staff, French Air and Space Force & discussed aspects of #DefenceCooperation between both the defence forces,” the army tweeted.

Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral SN Ghormade also interacted with Mille with a focus on bilateral operational engagement and mitigation of security concerns in the Indian Ocean region, according to the Indian Navy.

The military cooperation between India and France has witnessed a major expansion in the last few years.

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