Paris: France and India are all set to start military exercise ‘Orion’ at Mont-de-Marsan, an Air Force base of the French Air and Space Force (FASF) today.
Taking to Twitter, France Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said, “France warmly welcomes the @IAF_MCC contingent that will take part in exercise #Orion2023 from today! French & Indian #Rafale jets will soon fly together in the skies of France.”
The exercise will be conducted from 17 April to 05 May 2023, with the IAF Contingent comprising four Rafale, two C-17, two ll-78 aircraft and 165 air warriors. This would be the first overseas exercise for the IAF’s Rafale aircraft, according to the statement released by Defence Ministry.
“Besides the IAF and the FASF, Air Forces from Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States would also be flying in this multilateral exercise. Participation in this exercise would further enrich the employment philosophy of the India Air Force, by imbibing the best practices from other Air Forces,” the statement read.
Earlier, defence officials told ANI that Indian Rafale combat aircraft are likely to participate in a multinational wargame codenamed Orion which is being hosted by France and involving many of its NATO and other important allies.
“Indian Air Force Rafale fighter jets are likely to fly to France to participate in Exercise Orion being held at a French air base there. The wargames are planned to be held from the third week of April to May 5,” defence officials told ANI.
Orion is reportedly the largest ever multinational exercise being carried out by the French defence forces which have involved their Army, Navy and Air Force along with their allies the US and the UK.
Over 7,000 NATO troops have reportedly taken part in the drill involving the land forces of their NATO allies.
The Indian Air Force is also going to take part in Exercise Copeindia from April 10 in Kalaikunda, West Bengal. There is the possibility that the schedule of the drills and availability of American F-15 fighter planes may see some changes, sources said.
The Rafale aircraft are the latest fighters to have been inducted into the Indian Air Force and are considered to be the most potent in the entire Asian region.
The 36 Rafales have been completely inducted and they have played a significant role in improving the country’s operational preparedness along both the borders with Pakistan and China.