During a long-distance deployment to the Indo-Pacific, three Rafale fighter jets from the French Air and Space Force made a technical stop at the Indian Air Force (IAF) station at Sulur. This showed how close the two countries are when it comes to defence.
The French Air and Space Force is currently running a major long-range operation in the Indo-Pacific. It is called “Pégase 22,” and it has a code name. In the first part of the mission, a part of the French air force will be sent from mainland France to the French territory of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean in less than 72 hours to show how well France can project air power over long distances.
On August 10 and 11, the force and jets stopped at Sulur airbase in Tamil Nadu. This was part of the historic 16,600-km deployment. From August 10 to September 18, Mission Pégase 22 took place.
There were three Rafale planes in the group, along with other planes that helped them. A statement from the French embassy says that the group arrived in Sulur on Wednesday night and left early Thursday morning for New Caledonia after getting fuel.
The fact that both the Indian and French air forces used Rafale jets during the operation “showed a high level of mutual trust and cooperation,” the statement said.
It also showed how the agreement France and India signed in 2018 to help each other with logistics was being put into action.
France is a resident power in the Indo-Pacific, and French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said that the IAF’s participation in the operation shows that we are committed to the region and to our allies through this ambitious long-distance air power projection. To reach this goal, it makes sense to work with India, our most important strategic ally in Asia.
As part of the next steps of Mission Pégase 22, the French group will take part in the “Pitch Black” exercise in Australia from August 17 to September 10. The IAF will take part in this international exercise along with Australia, Japan, the United States, Germany, Indonesia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and South Korea.
Mission Pégase 22 is “a strong demonstration of France’s ability to move quickly in the Indo-Pacific,” according to the announcement. According to the statement, the expedition is more proof that the security situation in Europe has not changed the commitment of France and Europe to the Indo-Pacific.
The mission also wants to stress France’s support for security and stability in the region and strengthen ties with some of its most important strategic allies, like India.