India-France Skyros Military Exercise: In a major development amid the ongoing border conflict with China, India and France will conduct a major military exercise involving the top-notch fighters of air forces of the two nations in desert state of Rajasthan in Western India.
The military exercise SKYROS, which will be conducted in Jodhpur in the third week of the month, will see participation of Rafale fighters from French and Indian Air Force.
“The French Air Force Rafale fighters would be coming to Jodhpur for the SKYROS wargames,” a person familiar with the matter told media.
In the SKYROS military exercise, Indian Air Force will field its front line Russian origin Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters and Rafale fighters recently acquired from French defence giant Dassault Aviation while the French Air Force will field its own Rafale jets against Indian Sukhois and Rafale combat jets.
This is the first military exercise of IAF Rafale fighter jets with a foreign air force.
The Skyros India-France military exercise is different from the routine Garuda series military exercises that the two close military partners have been conducting for more than a decade now.
The Skyros military exercise will see more complex manoeuvres being carried out by the fighters of both the sides.
Rafale fighters from IAF’s Ambala based Golden Arrow Squadron will participate in the Skyros military exercise to be held in Jodhpur in January 2021.
India-France Garuda military exercise
In July 2019, as a part of their Indo-Pacific cooperation, India and France conducted the sixth edition of Garuda military exercise from July 1 to July 12, 2019 at Mont-de-Marsan Airbase 118 in France.
The tactical bilateral Indo-French exercise was aimed at enhancing the interoperability level of the French and Indian crews in air defence and ground attack missions.
Falling under the global framework of bilateral cooperation between the two nations, the Garuda military exercise is alternately held in France and India.
The Garuda military exercise saw the deployment of several French Air Force aircrafts, Rafale fighters produced by Dassault Aviation, Alpha Jet, Mirage 2000, C135, E3F, C130, Casa.
Seven Indian aircrafts, including 4 Sukhoi Su-30 MKI, 2 C17s and 1 Ilyushin 78 participated in the Garuda military exercise.
The 4 SU-30 MKI belong to the 24th Hunting Hawks squadron of Air Force Station (AFS) Bareilly, while the Ilyushin 78 comes from the 78th Battle-Cry squadron from air force station Agra, and the 2 C17 from the 81st Sky Lords squadron of air force station Hindon.