New Delhi/Mont-de-Marsan: Indo-French Garuda VI exercise, held at Mont-de-Marsan air base in France, aimed at enhancing the interoperability level of the French and Indian crews in air defence and ground attack missions.
Indian pilots took to Rafale jets during the Indo-French Garuda VI exercise. The air defence drill was held from July 1 to July 12.
"Indian pilots taking to Rafale jets during the Indo-French Garuda VI exercise was amazing," the Chief of Staff of the French Air Force General Philippe Lavigne said.
"It was amazing. After two or three flights it feels very comfortable and the feedback I've gotten from the squadron says "Wow." It's a combat-proven aircraft and the interface is very nice and clear so it eases the pilot. I think it's a mix between a very good, experienced pilot and a very good aircraft which matched so well," General Lavigne said.
Indo-French exercise Garuda VI falls under the global framework of bilateral cooperation between the two nations and is alternately held in France and India.
"Garuda exercise over the past five editions and now the sixth one has seen increased complexity of the manoeuvres of the planning and of its implementation. More importantly, the Garuda exercises are placed in a larger context of very strong, robust, growing, dynamic, strategic partnership between India and France," India's Ambassador to France Vinay Mohan Kwatra said while highlighting that defence is an important pillar of the India-France strategic partnership.
"We have flown close to 400 hours, out of which, 100 hours were on the Indian aircraft and 300 hours were contributed by the French aircraft," Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria said.
"Where we have reached, we ended this exercise with a large force engagement and a very complex planning scenario wherein Rafale and Su-30s flew together against a representative adversary and very realistic scenario. To reach here, the two airforces did two weeks of exercise together," he added.
"The first week was the builder phase wherein simple combat exercises, starting with one versus one, two versus one and two versus two were flown. Thereafter, the second week was the large-force engagements, which included air-to-air refuelling, missions going from two to two and a half hours, the complexity of the engagement increasing, going on to 15 to 20 aircraft in one force and various forms of packages," he added.
The Indian Air Force Vice Chief himself took a sortie on the Rafale aircraft at the Mont-de-Marsan air base earlier on Friday....