Garuda 22 : Enhanced cooperation with India in Rajasthan [fr]
The French Air and Space Force (AAE) deployed 130 aviators, five Rafales and one MRTT till 12 November at Air Force Station Jodhpur in India for the "Garuda 22" exercise.
Air Force Station Jodhpur, 26 October-12 November 2022
An advanced bilateral exercise, “Garuda 22" was conducted as part of the Indo-French cooperation plan. This edition organised by the Indian Air Force (IAF) was of the “Large Force Employment” type, with a predominantly fighter aircraft configuration, and the participation of an A330 MRTT Phénix in the second phase of the activity. This reflected India’s position as a major strategic partner for France in the Indo-Pacific region. The aim was to improve the participants’ mutual knowledge to enhance interoperability between the AAE and the IAF. The crews involved planned, executed and debriefed missions in a realistic tactical environment. "Garuda 22" was also an opportunity for French aviators to have cross-cultural interactions and share experiences.
“The previous edition of this exercise took place in 2019 in Mont-de-Marsan and this is our first visit to India since 2014," said Commander Pierre Cagnac, head of the exercise. “India is a major strategic partner that has acquired Rafale fighter jets. We must learn to work together to be able to conduct joint operations if necessary. Especially since our procedures are different, India not being a NATO member.”
By the end of the third flight day, the pilots of the 30th fighter squadron "had performed platform exploration and visual combat missions to test their responsiveness.”
On the fourth flight day, the level was amped. “We could start the larger missions with up to 30 aircraft in flight," explained Commander Cagnac. “In the second phase of activity, with the presence of our A330 MRTT, we carried out cross-refuelling. We were fortunate to be able to work with many IAF assets: SU-30, Rafale, LCA Tejas, Jaguar, Awacs, IL78, helicopters, etc. Very different equipment compared to what we are used to.”
At the Jodhpur airbase, the pilots carried out sorties "in an expansive area that gave us the option of supersonic flight, which offered a very interesting level of realism," added Commander Pierre Cagnac.
"We have excellent relations, and Indian aviators greatly appreciated the technical and tactical capabilities of French pilots. They consider France to be a reliable partner and they want us to think the same of them," said the head of the French contingent. “The welcome on our arrival was remarkable. It was a real pleasure to be here, more than 6,000 kilometres away from home, and to find the same fighting spirit with our Indian partners.”