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Indian Air Force to participate in Exercise Garuda

A SU-30 plane takes off from Bareilly on Monday for Exercise Garuda, scheduled in France from 14-25 June. PTI Photo

NEW DELHI/BAREILLY (PTI): IAF is sending six of its front line Sukhoi fighter jets to an Indo-French joint air force exercise which will be held in France this month after a gap of four years.

Exercise Garuda, as the series is codenamed, would be held at the Istres air base in France from June 14 to 25 and this will be the first time Su-30MKI fighter jets of the IAF would participate in the exercise in that country, a defence PRO said here.

An IAF contingent of 230 air warriors was flagged off for the event by Central Air Command Senior Air and Staff Officer Air Marshal S Varthaman at Bareilly air base Monday.

Apart from the Sukhois, the IAF would take three of its IL-78 air refuelers and an IL-76 heavy lift transport aircraft for the exercise being held in France after the last exercise there in 2006.

During the exercise, for the first time the two air forces will be joined by the Singapore Air Force with its American-origin Block 52 F-16s, he said.

IAF's Garuda Special Forces will also be taking part in the Indo-French Garuda series air-to-air exercises in France.

"Joint exercises of this nature enhance mutual operational understanding and refines the procedural aspects and provides for tremendous learning experience for all the participating air forces," an official said.

The French Air Force, during the exercise, would field its Mirage 2000 and Rafael fighter jets, which is a contender in the IAF's 126 medium multi role combat aircraft tenders worth USD 11 billion, for the exercise.

Group Captain J Mishra would be the team leader under whose supervision the IAF contingent would perform in France.

Gp Capt NN Sinha would be the exercise director, who would be planning, coordinating and executing different aspects of the flying and ground manoeuvres during the exercise.

In the earlier Exercise Garuda, IAF had participated with its Su-30 KAs.

The Garuda series of exercises between India and France started in 2003 aiming to enhance military ties between the two countries and allow their air forces to understand each other's capabilities.

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