In a major development amid the ongoing border conflict with China, Rafale fighter jets of India and France will carry out wargames codenamed Exercise SKYROS in Jodhpur in the third week of January next year.
“The French Air Force Rafale fighters would be coming to Jodhpur for the SKYROS wargames which would see them flying with Indian Rafales from the 17 Squadron and the Su-30MKI fighters deployed there,” government sources told ANI.
This would be the first major wargame of the Indian Air Force (IAF) involving the Rafale fighters which were inducted into the service in August 2020 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government.
The wargames being conducted are different from the routine Garuda series exercises that the two sides have been carrying out for more than a decade now and would see some complex manoeuvres being carried out by the fighters of both sides, the sources said.
India had last carried out a major exercise with the French Air Force in July 2019 where the Indian Sukhois had flown with the French Rafales.
The IAF is also planning to use Rafales and Su-30s in integrated mode and a lot of steps have already been taken in this direction by the service.
The Rafales and the Su-30s have been deployed in tandem by the IAF in eastern Ladakh against the Chinese Air Force which has been flying regularly from bases close to India.
France has been helping India to arm its Air Force as India is getting 36 of Rafale fighters from there as part of a Rs 60,000 crore deal.
The last aircraft under the deal is likely to be received by the end of 2022.
India and China are engaged in a conflict over territorial issues and aggression by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Ladakh. More than 50,000 troops have been deployed by India in reaction to the Chinese deployment there.