French Air and Space Force (AAE) Chief of Staff General Stephen Mill was busy in New Delhi on Monday as Indian and French pilots flew Rafale and Tejas fighter jets as the second phase of the ongoing ‘Eagle’ began. 22′ exercise.

The French Air Force chief discussed with Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Anil Chouhan on issues of strategic importance and ways to broaden bilateral defense cooperation.

General Stephen Mill, Chief of Staff of the French Air and Space Force (AAE) with Chief of Defense Staff General Anil Chauhan (Image courtesy: Twitter/@HQ_IDS_India)

Mill then met Chief of the Air Force (CAS) Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary as the two chiefs discussed ways to enhance bilateral ties and strengthen cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

Indian Air Force
Chief of the Air Force (CAS) Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary with General Mill (Image courtesy: Twitter/@IAF_MCC)

As India is a key strategic partner of France in the Indo-Pacific, he discussed issues of defense cooperation, bilateral operational engagement and mitigating security concerns in the Indian Ocean region with the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral SN Ghormade. (IOR).

Indian Navy
Vice Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral SN Ghormade with General Stephen Mill (Image courtesy: Twitter/@IndianNavy)

After the completion of the first phase of the exercise between the Indian Air Force and the French Air Force, which began on October 26, at the Jodhpur Air Base, the second phase of ‘Garud Exercise’ began with enthusiasm.

From now till November 14, massive missions will be conducted to mobilize more than 30 aircraft including Rafale, Su-30 and made-in-India light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas fighters.

The exercise, the last edition of which took place in 2019 at Mont-de-Marsan, provides a platform for both participating forces to enhance their operational synergies and exchange best practices. The aim is to develop interoperability between AAE and IAF so that participants can work together to improve mutual knowledge.

With both armies now flying Rafale jets, the situation has completely changed since the French crew arrived in India for Garuda 2014.

The AAE has deployed 220 personnel, five Rafale aircraft and a state-of-the-art Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Phoenix for the bilateral exercise this time as the version focuses on ‘large force employment’. Combat Aviation.

The IAF, on the other hand, is participating with Su-30 MKI, Rafale, LCA Tejas and Jaguar fighter jets, as well as Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) and Mi-17 helicopters. The IAF force also includes combat-capable assets such as in-flight refueling aircraft, AWACS and Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) systems.

“In the second phase, with the presence of our A330 MRTT, we will be able to do cross-refuelling. We are fortunate to work with several IAF assets: SU-30, Rafale, LCA Tejas, Jaguar, Awacs, IL78, helicopters, etc. Foreign material compared to what we are used to,” said AAE Commander Pierre Cagnac, Director. of exercise.

In addition to sharing experiences, increasing operational knowledge and strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries, Garuda 22 is a way for French airmen to cross cultures. Engaged crews must plan, execute and brief missions in a realistic tactical environment.

“India is a major strategic partner that has bought Rafale. We must learn to work together so that we can conduct joint operations if necessary. Especially since our modus operandi is different, because India is not a member of NATO,” adds Cagnac.

French Air Space Force
Two French pilots set off on a mission (Image courtesy: French Air and Space Force)

Mill’s visit to New Delhi has further deepened and strengthened the India-France strategic partnership, but the intensity of the desert exercise in the western sector is increasing.

“It’s a real pleasure to come more than 6,000 kilometers from home, to rediscover the same fighting spirit with our Indian partners,” Cagnac told the French Air and Space Force in Jodhpur over the weekend.

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