Times of India | 1 June 2010
India, France to hold joint air combat exercise next month
The exercise, Garuda-IV, will be held at the Istres airbase in France from June 14 to 25. “The exercise will help to further enhance interoperability between the Indian and French air forces since pilots as well as the ground crew will get to see each other’s operational, technical and administrative practices from close quarters,” said an officer.
The exercise comes at a time when India and France are all set now to ink the around Rs 10,000 crore deal to upgrade the 56 Mirage-2000 fighter jets in IAF’s combat fleet. The first four to six Mirages will be upgraded in France, with the rest 50 or so being upgraded in India by Hindustan Aeronautics under transfer of technology.
Under the upgrade, the entire airframe will be stripped down to be re-wired and re-equipped with new avionics, mission computers, glass cockpits, helmet-mounted displays, electronic warfare suites and of course weapon systems to extend and enhance the operational life of the multi-role fighters by around 20 years. India had first inducted 40 Mirages in the mid-1980s, with over 20 more being bought in later years. IAF has had a ‘good’ experience with the fighters, which successfully carried out ‘targeted bombings’ during the 1999 Kargil conflict.
India’s defence ties with France are quite broad-based, including as they do the over Rs 20,000-crore project to build six French Scorpene submarines currently underway at Mazagon Docks.
France, of course, has also offered its multi-role Rafale fighter for the ongoing competition in the the gigantic $10.4-billion project to supply 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft to IAF.
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