France, India to start Orion military exercise today

17 April, 2023 | Anupam Shrivastav

Rafale National

India and France will begin the military exercise 'Orion' at Mont-de-Marsan, at French Air and Space Force (FASF) Base.

On Monday, India and France will begin the military exercise ‘Orion’ at Mont-de-Marsan, at French Air and Space Force (FASF) Base. The French ambassador to India Mr. Emmanuel Lenain took to twitter and said “France warmly welcomes the Indian Air Force contingent that will take part in exercise Orion 2023 from today! French & Indian Rafale jets will soon fly together in the skies of France.”

The exercise will take place from April 17 to May 5, 2023, with the IAF contingent consisting of four Rafale, two C-17, two ll-78, and 165 air warriors. According to a statement made by the Defence Ministry, this would be the first foreign exercise for the IAF’s Rafale aircraft.

The statement released by Defence Ministry read as follows “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 international exercise known as Orion, which is being hosted by France and includes many of its NATO and other key allies, is likely to feature Indian Rafale combat aircraft, according to the reports from defence officials. They further added “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.”

Orion is said to be the most comprehensive international exercise being conducted by the French armed forces which includes their Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as their allies, the US and UK. The training involving the land forces of their NATO allies reportedly involved over 7,000 NATO soldiers.

The exercise will be held at Kalaikunda, West Bengal from April 10 which will see the participation of Indian Air Force. According to insiders, there is a chance that the drill schedule and the availability of American F-15 fighter planes might see some changes. Remarkably, the recently inducted Rafale fighter jets are known to be the most lethal aircrafts in whole Asian region. A total of 36 Rafale jets were inducted which have significantly boosted the capabilities of Indian Air Force and its operational preparedness against threats emerging from China and Pakistan.