New Delhi: India, France, and the United Arab Emirates conducted a joint air exercise codenamed “Desert Knight” over the Arabian Sea, on Tuesday. The objective of the exercise was to enhance synergy and interoperability among the air forces of the three countries, and to showcase the Indian Air Force’s prowess, according to a defence ministry news release.
According to the release, the IAF operated from several of its bases located in India’s west coast, while UAE and France operated the planes from Al Dhafra airbase in Abu Dhabi.
The exercise featured several frontline aerial assets and combat jets of the air forces of the three countries, including Su-30MKI, MiG-29, Jaguar fighter jets, an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) radar systems (commonly known as “Awacs” or airborne warning and control system), a C-130-J transport plane, and an Il-78 air-to-air refueller from the IAF. The French Air & Space Force fielded Rafale fighter aircraft and an Airbus A330 multirole tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft, while the UAE Air Force fielded American-made F-16 fighters.
The release further said the exercise facilitated the exchange of operational knowledge, experiences, and best practices among the participants. It may be noted that the exercise took place in the Indian FIR (flight information regions). It comes amid increasing attacks on commercial vessels by the Houthi group Ansar Allah in the Red Sea.
The trilateral exercise came days before India’s Republic Day celebrations where two Rafale fighter jets and an Airbus A330 MRTT of the French air force will also feature in the flypast, as India Sentinels had reported.