Exercise Skyros: India-France to undertake joint exercise with Rafales this month
New Delhi, Jan 02: Come January 19 and four Rafale fighters of the French Air Force will land in India to take part in joint exercises with the Indian Air Force's Golden Arrow Squadron with was resurrected with the induction of the Rafale fighter jets in September last year.
The exercises have been planned between January 19 and 25 in the skies over Rajasthan. The four fighters will also take part in in joint exercises with the Australian Air Force before landing in India. The Rafales from France will be accompanied by the Airbus A 330 multi-role tanker transport aircraft for aerial refuelling support.
The exercise is aimed at focusing on interoperability, manoeuvrability and low flying over the desert.
The exercise named Exercise Skyros will take place over the Air Force firing range in Pokhran. This would be the first exercise involving the IAF's Rafale fighter jets.
The solitary Rafale squadron will be further strengthened with the arrival of three more fighter jets in January. This would be the third set of deliveries of the French origin aircraft to the Indian Air Force.
In all the IAF has ordered 36 warplanes at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. India had ordered the jets from France in September 2016 under a government to government deal. With the January delivery the number of Rafale's in the Air Force's inventory will be at 11.
The additional jets will bolster the capabilities of the Golden Arrows Squadron of the Indian Air Force.
This is crucial as it comes at a time when the tensions with China have been escalated along the Line of Actual Control at eastern Ladakh.
By April 2021, 16 omni role Rafale jets will be inducted into the Golden Arrows Squadron. On September 10, five French-made multirole Rafale fighter jets were inducted into the Indian Air Force in a glittering ceremony at the Ambala air force base.
Three more jets will arrive in January, while another three in March . Seven more would arrive in April and this would take the total number of fighters handed over to the Indian Air Force to 21. While the Golden Arrows Squadron would be complete with 18 fighters, the remaining three would be sent to the Hashimara airbase in north Bengal's Alipurduar. This would aid in counter the Chinese threat in the eastern front.