A flying contingent of four Rafale fighters, two C-17 Globemasters and 72 IAF personnel departed for France today. The flyby and march of the IAF Air Warriors on Bastille Day follows a long association the two nations share, especially in the field of air power. Many Indians like Welinkar, Shivdev Singh, HC Dewan and Jumbo Majumdar fought in the skies over France during both world wars. Some, like Jumbo Majumdar, were even decorated for their gallant action, on the Falaise Gap, during the terminal phase of the Second World War.
The Indian Air Force also used more French aircraft starting with the Ouragan. This was followed by fighter aircraft such as the Breguet Alize, Mystere IVA, SEPECAT Jaguar, Mirage 2000 and now the Rafale. Helicopters such as the Alouette-III and Lama continue to service yeomans in India, especially in remote Himalayan areas. In fact, the IAF marching contingent is commanded by Team Leader Sindhu Reddy, who is a skilled helicopter pilot. He also piloted the Alouette-III helicopter extensively in his service.
Professional ties between the two Air Forces were also strengthened during flying exercises as Ex Desert Knight, Garuda and Orion. The IAF’s Rafale aircraft flying wing-to-wing with the FASF reflects this decades-long strategic friendship that continues to mature, both on the ground and in the air.