Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), RKS Bhadauria, who departed on a five-day visit to France today flagged off the next batch of Rafale fighter jets on a non-stop flight to India with mid-air refueling by the French Air force and UAE.
The IAF chief also visited the Rafale training center and earlier held talks with Gen Philippe Lavigne, Chief of Staff of French Air and Space Force (FASF) on ways to further expand cooperation between the two sides.
The visit would open up new gates and possibilities for improving the level of cooperation between the two Air Forces. The Air Chief Marshal will meet with France’s senior leadership and visit operational facilities and airbases, marking the continuation of increasing bilateral defence cooperation with the French Air and Space Force.
The visit comes after the Chief of Staff of the French Air and Space Force (FASF), Gen Philippe Lavigne visited India in February 2020.
In the recent past, the two Air Forces have had considerable operational contact. The IAF and FASF participate in the bilateral air exercise series ‘Garuda,’ as well as hop exercises, the most recent of which was Ex Desert Knight 21 held in January 2021 at Air Force Station Jodhpur.
In March 2021, the IAF and FASF took part in the Ex Desert Flag, which was hosted by the UAE Air Force along with other friendly countries.
Bolstering friendly relations, Bilateral military contacts are being strengthened as India inked a direct deal with the French government to purchase 36 new Rafale fighter jets in 2016.
14 of the 36 Rafale fighter jets have been delivered so far, with another six scheduled to be delivered by the end of the month.
India and France share a close degree of opinions on a range of regional and global issues. The visit will be a significant step in further enhancing the mutual cooperation between both nations.