The fourth round of the Indo-French air exercise Garuda began today at Istres Air Base in Southern France.
During Garuda, which will last almost two weeks, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the French Armée de l’Air (ALA) will practice various missions ranging from ‘close combat engagement of large forces, slow mover protection, and protecting and engaging High Value Aerial Assets’, said a statement released by the IAF.The statement quotes the IAF contingent commander, Group Captain J Mishra as saying, “The focus of the air exercise is learning from each others best practices. The air defense operations would be central to our various maneuvers. These would take place in AWACS and non-AWACS environment. The intensity of the exercise would be gradually increased throughout its duration so that we learn and absorb maximum from the exercise”. The IAF’s Special Forces, Garuds will also carry out jumps with French Special Forces from the IAF’s IL-76 aircraft. The IAF has sent in six SU-30 MKIs, three IL-78s and one IL-76 aircraft for the exercise. The IAF contingent arrived at Istres Air Force Base around noon on 12 Jun 2010. The base, built before the Second World War, is reputed to have the longest landing strip in Europe and also has a repair facility and training grounds.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is also participating in the exercise for the first time with its F-16 aircraft. Assets of the French ALA such as their mid-air refueller have commenced their participation in the exercise.