Indo-French Air Exercise “Garuda V”
Indo-French Air Exercise “Garuda V” at Air Force Station Jodhpur, 2nd to 13th June 2014
The fifth edition of the Indo-French air exercise “Garuda” took place from 2nd to 13th June 2014 at Air Force Station Jodhpur.
France deployed four Rafale omnirole combat aircraft from 3/30 Fighter Squadron “Lorraine” to Jodhpur Air Force Station and one C-135 FR tanker aircraft, from 2/91 Air Refueling Group “Bretagne”.
French Air Force Chief, General Denis Mercier, attended the exercise. A total of 94 French Air Force personnel were deployed, including nine Rafale aircrews and twenty-seven Rafale technicians.
The Indian Air Force participation consisted of Sukhoi-30 MKIs, MiG-27 “UPG” and MiG-21 “Bison”, as well as Ilyushin Il-78 tanker aircaft and Ilyushin Il-76 AWACS airborne early-warning and control aircraft.
The objectives of the exercise were to share the know-how of French and Indian pilots and to enhance interoperability and cooperation between French and Indian Air Forces, including in the field of air refueling. Rafale planes were already engaged in combat in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali. The aircrews conducted daily combat training missions against or alongside each other, in a range of tactical scenarios offering increasingly complex and realistic training situations.
“Garuda V” witnessed the maiden participation of the Rafale fighter aircraft in an air exercise in India. The “Garuda” series of air exercises is an important aspect of the Indo-French bilateral military cooperation. The bilateral defence relationship is a cornerstone of the strategic partnership between France and India, established in 1998.
Garuda exercises are conducted alternately in France and India since 2003:
Garuda I: February 2003, Gwalior, India, in the presence of the French Chief of Staff. It was the first fighter-to-fighter exercise between the Indian Air Force and a foreign Air Force.
Garuda II: June 2005, Istres Air Force Base, France. It was the first exercise of the Indian Air Force in Europe
Garuda III: February 2007, Kalaikunda Air Force Station, India
Garuda IV : June 2010, Istres Air Force Base, France. First cross-refuelling on each other’s tankers. First edition of the exercise in trilateral format, with Singapore.
The Strategic Partnership between France and India was signed in January 1998 by President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, and then launched during Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee’s visit to Paris in September 1998.
Strategic cooperation between France and India dates back to 1951, with the first agreement between the Indian and French Atomic Energy Commissions, and, ever since, has constantly developed and expanded in scope.
Defence cooperation is one of its four pillars along with nuclear energy, counter-terrorism and space. The milestones in this area have been:
1953: acquisition of the military aircraft TOOFANI (Dassault) by the Indian Air Force, followed by a continuous cooperation - MYSTERE IV (1957), naval ALIZÉ (1960) and MIRAGE 2000 (1982).
1962: licence agreement between SudAviation/Aerospatiale (Airbus) and HAL and, since then, production of Cheetah/Chetak (Lama/Alouette) helicopters.
1982: agreement on the transfer of technology of the MILAN missile MBDA-BDl
Since 1998: regular joint naval (Varuna), air (Garuda since 2003) and land (Shakti since 2011) exercises.
2005: agreement to build Scorpene submarines in India (DCNS).
2006: Bilateral Defence Agreement.
2012: The Rafale was selected to equip the Indian Air Force. Once concluded, the contract will trigger unprecedented levels of technological and industrial cooperation.
February 2013: during President François Hollande’s State Visit to India, it was decided to further expand the scope of security cooperation with a dialogue on cyber security, opening the way for cooperation in this strategic field.