The exercise provided a platform for both the countries to enhance operational capability and interoperability, while also sharing best practices
Indian Air Force (IAF) and French Air and Space Force (FASF) participated in a bilateral exercise, named ‘Garuda VII’, from October 26 to November 12, 2022 at Air Force Station Jodhpur. In this exercise, FASF participated with four Rafale fighter aircraft, one A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft and a contingent of 220 personnel. The IAF participation was with Su-30 MKI, Rafale, LCA Tejas and Jaguar fighter aircraft, as well as the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Mi-17 helicopters. The IAF contingent also included Combat Enabling Assets like Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS and AEW&C.
This is the seventh edition of the bilateral exercise. The first, third and fifth editions were conducted in India in 2003, 2006 and 2014 at Air Force Stations Gwalior, Kalaikunda and Jodhpur, respectively. The second, fourth and sixth editions were conducted in France in 2005, 2010 and 2019.
Ex Garuda VII is also the first occasion for the LCA Tejas and the recently inducted LCH Prachanda to participate in any international exercise. The exercise, which culminated on November 12, 2022, includes four FASF Rafale fighters and one A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. Apart from the LCA and LCH, the IAF contingent consists of Su-30 MKI, Rafale and Jaguar fighter aircraft, as well as Mi-17 helicopters. The IAF contingent also includes Combat Enabling Assets like Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS, AEW&C and Garud Special Forces.
Exercise Garuda VII provided the two Air Forces with the opportunity for professional interaction and sharing of operational knowledge and experience. With meticulous planning and execution of various phases of the exercise, personnel of the IAF and the FASF were exposed to realistic air combat simulations and the associated Combat Support Operations. This enabled the participating contingents to engage in wide ranging interactions, providing valuable insight into each other’s best practices.
Participation of the IAF and FASF in this exercise promoted professional interaction, exchange of experiences and enhancement of operational knowledge, besides strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries. The exercise also provided a platform for cultural exchange between the Air Force personnel of both the countries.
Exercise Garuda VII between Indian Air Force (IAF) and French Air and Space Force (FASF) witnessed combined flying by Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) of IAF, Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, and Chief of the Air Staff of FASF, General Stéphane Mille. While CAS flew a sortie in an IAF Rafale fighter, the FASF Chief flew in an IAF Su-30 MKI fighter. Both participated in the exercise as part of a combined training mission which was flown from Air Force Station Jodhpur.
Speaking to the media later, along with the FASF Chief, Indian Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) brought out that Ex Garuda provides the unique opportunity for both Air Forces to learn and imbibe best practices of each other during operations. He also highlighted the growing interoperability between both air forces, which has been developing with each successive edition of the exercise, a regular bilateral exercise since 2003.