India has hosted a French Air and Space Force contingent, including three Rafale fighter jets and support aircraft, for a two-day technical stopover at the IAF airbase at Sulur in Tamil Nadu.
The French contingent is on a long-distance deployment mission named Pégase-22 to New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean from August 10 to 18. “France is a resident power of the Indo-Pacific, and this ambitious long-distance air power projection demonstrates our commitment to the region and our partners. It is only natural that to carry out this mission, we rely on India, our foremost strategic partner in Asia,” French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said on Thursday.
The operation demonstrated a high level of mutual trust and interoperability between the French and Indian Air Forces, which has been further boosted by the fact that they both now fly Rafale jets. “It also illustrated the concrete implementation of the reciprocal logistics support agreement signed by France and India in 2018,” a French official said.