Indian Rafales to take part in French multinational exercise Orion
8 April, 2023 | Pragati Singh
The aircraft expected to participate in the exercise are believed to be from the force's Western Air Command, which includes the Golden Arrows squadron.
In a first, Indian Rafale combat planes are expected to take part in Orion, a multinational exercise hosted by France and including many of its NATO and other major 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.
The aircraft expected to participate in the exercise are believed to be from the force’s Western Air Command, which includes the Golden Arrows squadron. The exercise is being held in France against the backdrop of the Russia-Ikraine war, in which NATO, led by the United States, is opposing Russian operations against Ukraine.
The IAF’s Rafales have previously participated in wargames with foreign countries held within India, including those with the French Air Force in Jodhpur nicknamed Desert Knight. The French Air Force would participate in the wargames alongside NATO and other partners, flying Rafale and Mirage-2000 fighter planes.
Orion is reputedly the largest international exercise ever conducted by French defence forces, involving their Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as allies the United States and the United Kingdom.
Approximately 7,000 NATO troops are said to have participated in the training involving NATO partners’ land forces. The Indian Air Force will also participate in Exercise Copeindia, which will begin on April 10 at Kalaikunda, West Bengal. According to reports, there is a chance that the drill schedule and availability of US F-15 fighter planes would change.
The Rafale aircraft is the most recent fighters to be integrated into the Indian Air Force and are widely regarded as the most powerful in the entire Asian region. The 36 Rafales have been fully inducted and have contributed significantly to the country’s operational readiness at both its borders with Pakistan and China.