The Indian Air Force (IAF) and French Air and Space Force are set to participate in Exercise Desert Knight-21.

The bilateral air exercise will be held at Jodhpur Air Force station in Rajasthan, India, from 20 to 24 January.

Exercise Desert Knight-21 aims to improve interoperability between the forces while exchanging ‘ideas and best practices’ gained from operational experience.

Platforms such as Rafale, Airbus A-330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT), A-400M tactical transport aircraft and about 175 personnel from the French Air and Space Force will take part in the military drill.

According to the Indian Ministry of Defence, the exercise will see the deployment of Rafale aircraft by both countries.

IAF assets participating in the exercise will also include Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI, IL-78 flight refuelling aircraft, AWACS and AEW&C aircraft.

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The joint drill marks a significant milestone ‘in the series of engagements’ between the two nations.

Under the Indo-French defence cooperation, IAF and French Air and Space Force have conducted six editions of air exercises named ‘Garuda’. The latest of these was held last year at Mont-de-Marsan AFB in France.

The airforces of the two countries ‘have been gainfully utilising’ available options to hold ‘hop-exercises’ to further strengthen the existing defence ties.

Currently, the French detachment for Ex Desert Knight-21 is deployed in Asia as part of their ‘Skyros Deployment’.

In June 2019, the IAF took part in a two-week bilateral exercise with the French Air Force.