India, France, UAE Likely To Hold ‘Trilateral Military Drills’; Abu Dhabi To Help India With Rafale Jets

A trilateral military exercise involving India, France, and the UAE is on the cards, Hindustan Times reports. The development assumes significance as the UAE will help deliver three more multi-role Rafale jets to Indian Air Force (IAF) by January-end.

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Ten more fighters will join the Indian Air Force by the second half of April 2021, according to reports.

The fighters would fly for eight hours non-stop from Bordeaux-Merignac base in France to join the Golden Arrows Squadron of the IAF in India’s Ambala. Interestingly, they will be assisted by the UAE air force’s Airbus multi-role transport tanker with mid-air refueling twice, Hindustan Times reported.

The move is being seen as India’s deepening relationship with Gulf countries. A person aware of the matter was quoted in the report as saying, “The UAE air force’s gesture is the first-of-its-kind and reflects how the two countries are rapidly cementing their security ties.”

A trilateral military exercise involving France, the UAE, and India is on the cards, the report said.

A set of three Rafale fighters will arrive in March, followed by seven more in April. They will also receive mid-air refueling from the UAE air force.

India has so far received eight Rafale fighter jets out of 36 ordered. By April, the Indian Air Force will have 21 single-seat fighters and seven twin-seat fighters.

The aircraft was refueled four times by a French MRTT when the first batch of five Rafale fighters had flown non-stop from France on July 29 last year. The second batch was received in November 2020.

Amid border tensions with China, India had urged France to ensure timely delivery of the Dassault Rafale jets.

The new birds have been deployed in the mountainous terrain in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Currently, some of the Rafale are also training with the French Air and Space Force in Jodhpur at the Indo French air exercise Desert Knight 21.

India has acquired 36 Rafale in a government-to-government deal in 2016 at a cost of $8.7 billion. The multi-role fighter jets fill the gap between long-range weapons and sensors in the Indian Air Force and add strategic depth and strength to India’s air combat capabilities.

Their multi-role capacities include electronic warfare, air defense, ground support, and in-depth strikes. Dassault Aviation has also been looking forward to beginning manufacturing of fighter jets in India, as indicated by Diplomatic Advisor to the French President Emmanuel Bonne during his visit to India earlier this month.