India and France have been side-by-side in both good and bad times, says the ambassador
Indo-French air exercises DesertKnight21 is underway at Air Force Station Jodhpur
French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain on Saturday expressed his gratitude towards the country for supplying medicines to France when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.
"During Covid-19, you (India) shipped medicines needed in French hospitals. We are very grateful for that again... Very clear statements were released by your government and Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) when our values like secularism were under attack in my country," Lenain told news agency ANI amid the ongoing India-France bilateral exercise "Desert Knight 21".
Further speaking on the bilateral ties, Lenain said: "India and France have been side-by-side in both good and bad times. When India decided to conduct a nuclear test in Pokhran, we were on your side as we understand your strategic autonomy."
Desert Knight-21 Exercise:
Indo-French air exercises "DesertKnight21" is underway at Air Force Station Jodhpur, from 20 to 24 January.
As part of the first edition of the exercise, four French Rafale fighters landed in Jodhpur after flying directly for around four hours from the Djibouti airbase using their A-330 multirole tanker transport aircraft.
The French are participating with Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft and approximately 175 personnel.
The IAF aircraft participating in the exercise include Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI, Rafale, IL-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS and AEW&C aircraft.
The joint exercise will take place over four days with increasingly complex drills that will enable the two air forces to share operational experience, particularly regarding Rafale jets and learn how to operate together more effectively, said the statement.
As part of Indo-French defence cooperation, the Indian Air Force and the French Air and Space Force had held six editions of air exercises named 'Garuda' - the latest being in 2019 at Air Force Base Mont-de-Marsan in France.