Observing that the Indo-French war games have showcased the ability of Indian Air Force pilots to quickly adapt to new combat aircraft fleets like the Rafales, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat on Thursday said the Indian Air Force is in league with top air forces in the world.
Having flown in an Airbus-330 Multirole Tanker Transport Aircraft at the exercise venue, the seniormost defence officer in the country said he was impressed with the way Indian pilots could quickly learn and refuel from the French aircraft over Indian skies during the war games.
India and France are conducting a joint exercise at Jodhpur from January 20 to 24.
"Today we have witnessed the exercise Desert Knight 2021 and the significance of this exercise is that the Rafale fighter which has been inducted recently in our Air Force and the French Rafale aircraft along with our (Indian) Su-30s, Mirages have trained together.
"We have shown how quickly we have adapted to the Rafale fighters. We have shown the French the capability of our pilots that they any quickly operationalise in any fighter at a very fast pace," the CDS said.
On his sortie in the French multirole transport aircraft, he said the aircraft (Airbus-330) "can ferry passengers, do mid-air refuelling and can also convert it into a medical facility for medical emergencies."
"We also saw how our Rafales, Su-30s and Mirages were refuelling from it. The most important aspect was to see how quickly our pilots could learn to refuel from this aircraft. Our pilots have shown that they can adapt to training and learn very fast. The exercise has shown that the Indian Air Force is in the league of the topmost air forces of the world and not less than anyone in any way," he said.
India and France have fielded a number of fighter jets in the exercise which include Rafales of two sides besides Mirages and the Sukhois of the Indian Air Force.
The CDS was earlier scheduled to fly in a French Rafale fighter plane but the plan was changed later.
( With inputs from ANI )
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