NEW DELHI: A French Air and Space Force contingent, which included three Rafale jets, was hosted for a technical stopover at Air Force Station Sulur (Coimbatore) for a day on August 10 during a long-distance deployment from Metropolitan France to the Pacific Ocean.
"The French Air and Space Force is carrying a major long-range mission in the Indo Pacific, code-named Pegase 22 (between 10th to 18th August). The first stage of this mission aims to demonstrate France’s capacity for long-distance air power projection by deploying an Air Force contingent covering a distance of 16,600 km in less than 72 hours (from French territory to New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean)," said a spokesperson of the French Embassy.
The contingent comprised three Rafale jets and support aircraft, that landed at Indian Air Force’s Sulur airport on August 10th and flew out on August 11th after refuelling.
“France is a resident power of the Indo-Pacific, and this ambitious long-distance air power projection demonstrates our commitment to the region and our partners. It is only natural that to carry out this mission, we rely on India, our foremost strategic partner in Asia. My heartfelt thanks to the Indian Air Force for welcoming the French contingent," said Ambassador of France to India, Emmanuel Lenain.
Meanwhile, in the following stages of Mission Pégase 22, the French Air Force contingent will take part in the “Pitch Black” air exercise taking place in Australia from 17th August to 10th September. The Indian Air Force will also participate in this multilateral drill, along with Australia, Japan, United States, Germany, Indonesia, Singapore, United Kingdom, and South Korea.
"Mission Pégase 22 is a powerful demonstration of France’s capacity for quick deployment in the Indo-Pacific. The mission is also proof that the security situation in Europe has not diminished the French and European commitment in the Indo-Pacific. In this respect, it also aims to strengthen ties with key strategic partners, such as India, and underline France’s support for security and stability in the region,’’ the spokesperson added.
The operation demonstrated a high level of mutual trust and interoperability between the French and Indian Air Forces, which has been further boosted by the fact that both Air Forces now fly Rafale jets. It also illustrated the concrete implementation of the reciprocal logistics support agreement signed by France and India in 2018.
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