India and France in defence clinch, in air and on sea | India News

NEW DELHI: India and France are now set to undertake a joint maritime surveillance mission in the southern Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as part of their robust strategic partnership, even as their air force chiefs took to the skies in fighters during the ongoing ‘Garuda’ air combat exercise in Jodhpur on Tuesday.
Officials said a P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft of the Indian Navy has touched down at the strategically-located La Réunion, a French overseas island east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius, for coordinated surveillance and ocean-mapping operations with the French Navy “to further enhance maritime domain awareness, security and safety in the southern IOR”.
This becomes important with China, which has the world’s largest Navy with 355 warships and submarines, actively scouting for logistical facilities in the IOR after establishing its first overseas base at Djibouti on the Horn of Africa in 2017.
Concurrently, in the ongoing seventh edition of the bilateral Garuda exercise at Jodhpur, Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari flew in a twin-seat Rafale jet, while French Air and Space Force (FASF) chief General Stéphane Mille undertook a sortie in a Sukhoi-30MKI on Tuesday.
There is growing interoperability between IAF and FASF, with the Garuda exercise providing a “unique opportunity” for both to learn from each other and imbibe best practices during operations, ACM Chaudhari said.
Stressing it was important to learn how to interoperate with friendly nations, the IAF chief said air power will play a very vital role in deciding the outcome of any future conflict.
India has inked reciprocal military logistics pacts with France and other countries like the US, Japan, Australia, South Korea and Singapore to enhance its strategic reach in the IOR to counter China’s expanding footprint in the region.
These pacts inked by India enable deployed military forces to share logistics to support each other’s warships and aircraft as part of the overall defence cooperation. India, for instance, hosted Rafale fighters and other aircraft of the FASF at the Sulur airbase when they were on a long-distance Pégase-22 deployment mission to New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean in August.
The two countries have forged expansive defence ties across all domains, including maritime security, counter-terrorism, information-sharing, aerospace and defence-industrial collaboration.
The induction of 36 Rafale fighters by IAF under the Rs 59,000 crore deal in September 2016, apart from the ongoing Scorpene submarine-building and Mirage-2000 fighter upgrade projects, have further cemented the relationship.

Leave a Comment