The French Air Force is organising and coordinating ‘Mission PEGASE’ in the Asia-Pacific region by projecting a detachment of three Rafale combat jets, one Atlas A-400M military transport aircraft, one C-135 refueling aircraft, and one Airbus A310 cargo aircraft.
After Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore, this detachment, which involves over a hundred aviators, will make a three-day stopover in India this week at the Air Force Stations of Gwalior and Agra. On this occasion, joint flights and exchanges between the French and IAF Force will be conducted.
This operational mission aims to reinforce France’s presence in this region of strategic interest and deepen its relations with its main partner countries. This mission succeeds a major exercise in Australia, where French aircraft have carried out joint drills with those of the IAF.
”This mission in India is yet another illustration of the depth of the Indo-French strategic partnership, which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year, and the great trust that prevails in the relations between our respective armed forces,” the French Embassy said in a press release.
During the exchange programme, French Air Force pilots will fly the upgraded version of India’s Mirage-2000 aircraft while IAF pilots would be flying in their Rafale planes.
This is expected to give some experience to IAF pilots till the time when Rafale jets start arriving in India. India has signed a government-to-government agreement with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets.
These will be delivered to the IAF starting from September 2019. The programme with the French Air Force would help IAF pilots gain experience of flying the fighter.