`s top line SU-30MKI fighters on Monday reached the Istres Air Base in southern France to kick off a tri-nation exercise that will involve modern fighters from the French and Singapore Air Force.
The fourth round of the `Garuda` war games, which traditionally involve only India and France, is also the largest in terms of participating aircraft, given that Singapore has sent its F-16 fighters for the aerial combat exercise.
India has also sent a contingent of the special forces of the Indian Air Force (IAF) which will take part in training missions with the French Special Forces. During the exercise, the IAF`s Special Forces `Garuds` would also be pro-actively participating and shall be carrying out jumps along with the French Special Forces, an IAF spokesperson said.
The IAF has deployed six SU-30MKI fighters, three IL-78 mid-air refuelling aircraft and an IL-76 transport aircraft for the exercise that will conclude on June 25.
The French Air Force is fielding mid-air refueller aircraft, Mirage 2000 fighters, as well as the latest generation Rafael fighters, which are a contender for the IAF`s tender for 126 fighters to replace the ageing MiG fleet.
During the exercise, various missions will be practised, including close-combat, engagement of large forces, slow mover protection, and protecting and engagement of high-value aerial assets, the spokesperson said. The IAF contingent commander, Group Captain J Mishra, said the focus would be to learn from the best practices of the participating nations.
The air defence operations would be central to our various manoeuvres. The intensity of the exercise would be gradually increased throughout its duration so that we learn and absorb maximum from the exercise, Mishra said.