Enthused by the results of the Garuda 2010 exercises conducted jointly with the Indian Air Force, the French Air Force plans to send its multi-role combat aircraft, Rafale for the next edition in India.

Since the exercise got under way at Istres air base in France, the air forces of India, France and Singapore have flown over 60 missions carrying out various manoeuvres including implementing ‘no fly zone' and large force engagements both at day and night.

The exercises were conducted by six IAF SU-30MKI along with the Mirage 2000-5, with Rafale and F-16 being fielded by their counterparts.

IAF frontline fighter Sukhoi-30 also took part in the high-value airborne asset protection and protection busting missions.

In yet another exercise, IAF IL-78 planes carried out cross-refuelling, which involves refuelling the fighter aircraft of other air forces. Making the mission difficult was to practise refuelling denial missions, Wg. Cdr. Mahesh Upasani, spokesman for the exercise said.

The SU-30 was subjected to ‘swing roles,' during which aircraft switch roles from an offensive to a defensive one. The E-3 AWACS provided the radar coverage.

The IAF ‘Garud' special forces team also carried out two jumps by day and night along with the French special forces. The troops were para-dropped by IAF's IL-76 transport aircraft.

Wg. Cdr. Upasani said the French officials have expressed the desire to take the Rafale for the next round of exercises to be held in either 2011 or 2012.

‘Refined doctrine'

IAF Air Marshal K.K. Nowhar who visited the contingent taking part in the exercise, said: “IAF's participation in the exercise has reinforced the manner in which we conduct our operations. It has also helped us refine our doctrine.

“In future, there is a slim chance that a country would operate in isolation especially in a co-operative defence scenario.

“Thus knowing each other's best practices in terms of tactics, techniques and procedures is the main objective of this exercise, which is also a part of the on-going Indo-French Defence Cooperation.''

The intensity of the exercise has gradually increased to enhance the understanding of the contingent members. The exercise started with basic one-versus-one missions with limited Beyond Visual Range capabilities, progressed to multi-aircraft strikes and counter air missions with complete BVR capability, and concluded with Large Force Engagement sorties.

Keywords: Garuda 2010

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