The Indian Air Force (IAF) and French Air and Space Force (FASF) have completed a joint military exercise at Jodhpur Air Force station in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

The Ex Desert Knight 2021 was conducted from 20 to 24 January. It was the first of its kind bilateral exercise aimed at improving operational capabilities and interoperability of the two airforces.

During the exercise, Rafale aircraft from both sides and IAF’s Su-30 MKI and Mirage 2000 aircraft participated in different complex missions, including Large Force Engagements.

IAF’s combat enablers AWACS and AEW&C aircraft and FASF’s A400M and A330 based Medium Range Tanker and Transport (MRTT) aircraft also took part in the drill.

With IAF in the process of inducting new Rafale jets, the exercise also helped the Indian pilots to familiarise with operations concepts for effective combat employment of the Rafale fleet.

In a statement, the Indian Ministry of Defence said Indian Chief of Defence Staff general Bipin Rawat visited Air Force Station Jodhpur on 21 January and interacted with participating forces.

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The statement added: “He also flew on-board the MRTT, along with Maj Gen Laurent Lherbette, the FASF contingent leader where he was given an overview on the conduct of the exercise and witnessed air-to-air refuelling operations by IAF and FASF fighters.”

Recently, the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the purchase of 83 LCA Tejas aircraft for IAF.