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IAF plans to engage Russia for joint air exercises: Arup Raha

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IAF's Su 30MK-I and MIG 27 fighters perform with French Air Forces Rafale fighter during Indo-French Exercise Garuda-V in Jodhpur on June 6. A PTI photo

JODHPUR (PTI): The Indian Air Force is planning to engage Russia for joint air exercises like the ones it has been conducting with other nations, IAF chief Arup Raha has said.

Raha said this on Monday while holding a joint press conference with French Air Force chief General Denis Mercier at the Jodhpur air base in Jodhpur. The two Air Chiefs were here to participate in the ongoing fifth Indo-French air exercise 'Garuda-5'.

"We are currently holding joint air exercises with the US, UK's Royal Air Force, Singapore, Oman and France for quite some time and the experiences have been conducive for both the participating nations.

"And now, we are planning to engage Russia for similar exercises," Raha said.

After arriving at Jodhpur in the morning, Raha and Mercier flew frontline fighter planes of each other's country -- the Su-30 MKI of India and the Rafale of France.

Referring to the Indo-French air exercise, Raha said, "We decided to hold the fifth edition in Jodhpur considering the strategic and geographic location as well as the climatic conditions.

"But holding this exercise in Jodhpur should not be seen as having any bearing on the on-going negotiations for the deal of Rafale aircrafts," he said.

Mercier described the exercise as a good experience.

He said flying in such hot climatic conditions was not a new thing for him and termed the experience of flying the Su-30 MKI as a "unique one."

When asked how the Rafale would add to the might of the IAF, Mercier said the aircraft has some unique features, from design to tactical and strike capabilities.

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