The Indian Air Force (IAF) held large-scale exercises with the French Air and Space Force (FASF) and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) in October – November. The HAL Tejas light combat aircraft and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Prachand made their international exercise debuts in the exercise with FASF.
The IAF – FASF exercise named Garuda-VII was conducted from October 26 to November 12 at Air Force Station Jodhpur. FASF participated with four Rafale fighter aircraft, one A-330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft and a contingent of 220 personnel.
The IAF fielded Su-30MKI, Rafale, Tejas and Jaguar fighter aircraft, as well as the LCH and Mi-17 helicopters. The IAF also deployed Il-78 in-flight refuelling aircraft, Phalcon AWACS, Netra AEW&C and Garud special forces units.
This was the seventh edition of the bilateral exercise. The first, third and fifth editions were conducted in India in 2003, 2006 and 2014. The second, fourth and sixth editions were conducted in France in 2005, 2010 and 2019.
IAF Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, and Chief of the Air Staff of FASF, General Stéphane Mille flew combined sorties on November 8. While the ACM Chaudhari flew in an IAF Rafale fighter, the Gen. Mille flew in an IAF Su-30MKI fighter. Both participated in the exercise as part of a combined training mission.
Speaking to the media, along with the General Mille, ACM Chaudhari noted out that Garuda provides the unique opportunity for both Air Forces to learn and imbibe best practices of each other during operations. He also highlighted the growing interoperability between both air forces, which has been developing with each successive edition of the exercise since 2003.
On November 3, the 11th edition of the annual Joint Military Training (JMT) between the IAF and RSAF commenced at Air Force Station, Kalaikunda. The two Air Forces have resumed this training after a gap of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The JMT was conducted over a period of six weeks. The bilateral phase of the exercise was conducted from November 9 – 18 and saw the two Air Forces engage in advanced air combat simulations.
The RSAF participated with over 10 F-16 aircraft, while the IAF fielded the Su-30MKI, Jaguar, MiG-29 and Tejas aircraft. The exercise underscored the strong and longstanding relationship between India and Singapore in the domain of defence cooperation. It provided the participating contingents with an opportunity to share valuable operational knowledge, experiences and best practices, while strengthening the professional bonds between the two Air Forces.