The Indian Air Force (IAF) contingent that took part in Garuda 2019, a bilateral Indo-French exercise hosted by the French Air Force (FAF) from July 1 to 12 at Mont-de-Marsan, returned to India on Friday after the successful completion of the exercise.
Garuda VI was the largest international air training exercise of 2019. The IAF contingent consisted of 134 air-warriors. The participating aircraft included four Su-30 MKI fighters besides one IL-78 and two C-17 aircraft that provided logistic support during induction and de-induction, the Defence Ministry said in a release.
The contingent departed for the exercise from India on June 25 with an objective of operating in the international environment at Mont-de-Marsan, France.
"Objectives for the exercise were to foster a closer relationship between India and France so as to promote interoperability through exchange of knowledge and experience. The exercise ensured that the participating forces were exposed to operational environment in an international scenario," the statement said.
Garuda VI was planned in two phases. In these phases, both IAF and FAF flew missions involving Large Force Engagement (LFE) air combat exercises in near realistic environment and exchanged best practices towards enhancing our operational capability. IAF undertook operations both by day and by night.
During the exercise, IAF maintenance crew ensured 100 per cent serviceability of all assets, thus ensuring that all missions were flown on all days as planned.
Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Vice Chief of Air Staff visited the IAF contingent during the exercise and also flew in the final mission.
Vinay Mohan Kwatra, Ambassador of India to France and General Philippe Lavigne, Chief of Staff of the French Air Force and Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria interacted with Garuda participants during the closing ceremony.
According to the MoD statement, IAF appreciated FAF for the professional conduct of the exercise and overall excellent support provided.
Participation in an International air exercise assumes importance in view of the continued engagement of the IAF with friendly foreign countries. Over the last decade, IAF has been actively participating in operational exercises hosted by various countries, wherein collaborative engagements have been undertaken with the best air forces in the world, the MoD statement added.
The operational lessons learnt by IAF during the exercise will assist IAF in adding more teeth to its overall war waging capabilities and assist us in better jointmanship with the friendly forces. (ANI)