The French Rafale fighter aircraft, shortlisted by the Indian Air
Force (IAF) for its $12 billion Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA)
program, will engage with IAF aircraft in June 3 joint exercises over
the Rajasthan desert.
The Indo-French air exercise, Garuda-5, will
include four Rafale multirole fighter aircraft and one air refueler
that will participate with IAF’s multirole Su-30MKI, MiG-27 and MiG-21
While the exercise is unlikely to test the performance
of the Russian or the French aircraft, it will expose to IAF personnel
the French aircraft’s capabilities in maneuvers, said an IAF official.
The MMRCA deal, in which Rafale is the preferred aircraft, has been in
the contract negotiations stage for more than a year and is awaiting
“Preference for the French Rafale during the
exercise by IAF pilots and personnel will lead to voices from within the
IAF for an early inking of the MMRCA contract,” said Nitin Mehta,
The Indian Defence Ministry also has
shortlisted the purchase of six Airbus A330 air refueling tankers for
the IAF at a cost of over $1 billion, but that deal also has yet to be
The objective of the Indo-French exercise is to expose IAF
pilots to French fighter tactics and the French pilots to Indian
fighter tactics, in addition to exposing IAF crew to air-to-air
refueling, said the IAF official.