High-Altitude Camaraderie – During Pitch Black 2022, An Indian Su-30MKI Meets A French Rafale Fighter Down Under
- The Indian Air Force has sent two C-17 heavy-lift planes and four Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets to the exercise. India and France are now working together a lot more on military and strategic issues.
- India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise announcement in April 2015 about the "critical operational necessity" of the IAF.
The official Twitter account of the Indian Air Force (IAF) posted a video of IAF and French Air and Space Force (FASF) pilots meeting each other’s horses.
Exercise Pitch Black 22 is happening right now in Australia, where the video was made.
With the hashtag #BridgesOfFriendship, the IAF wrote in the video’s description, “As the pace picks up at ExPitchBlack22, so does the good will.”
As the pace picks up at #ExPitchBlack22, so does the bonhomie.
Pilots from #IAF and #FASF show their steeds to each other.@Armee_de_lair pic.twitter.com/JxX1KcEUg0
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) September 3, 2022
At the beginning of the video, Captain Mathieu, a French pilot of a single-seat Rafale fighter jet with the call sign “Rookie,” says hello to India.
In the video, the French pilot shows the pilot from the Indian Air Force around his Rafale fighter jet. In the same way, the Indian pilot showed the French pilot around his Su-30 MKI.
The French Ambassador to India posted the video again on September 5 with the message, “High-altitude camaraderie Down Under! As part of the ExPitchBlack22 air exercise in Australia, you can watch French Rafale pilots train with IAF pilots.
High-altitude camaraderie Down Under! Watch French #Rafale pilots train with #IAF pilots as part of the #ExPitchBlack22 multilateral air exercise in Australia:@IAF_MCC pic.twitter.com/FRADFU7vv0
— Emmanuel Lenain 🇫🇷🇪🇺 (@FranceinIndia) September 5, 2022
Exercise Pitch Black is a military drill that takes place every two years in Darwin, Australia, from August 19 to September 8. Representatives from 17 countries, including Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, India, and Japan, are there.
This year’s exercise puts up to 2,500 soldiers and 100 planes from participating countries up against fake threats in a tough and realistic training environment. The last drill was in 2018, and the 2020 drills were called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Air Commodore Tim Alsop, who is in charge of the exercise, says that the return of Pitch Black is a great chance to build alliances and help keep the region stable.
RAAF said that the exercise shows how important Australia’s strong alliances are and how much it cares about regional security and making close connections all over the Indo-Pacific region.
The training area for this year is 300 nautical miles long and 240 nautical miles wide. With more space, you can make more realistic and complex scenarios.
“Pitch Black is a training exercise for a large number of people that is based on fighter battle scenarios. “This year, a lot has been done to improve the ability of many of the participating nations to refuel planes in the air,” Alsop said in a RAAF release.
The Indian Air Force has sent two C-17 heavy-lift planes and four Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets to the exercise. India and France are now working together a lot more on military and strategic issues.
In November 2021, Indian Su-30 MKI jets and French Rafale jets took part in an air force exercise together. India also uses Rafale fighter planes that were made in France.
As the #IAF contingent moves into #RAAF Darwin base for #ExPitchBlack22, heartfelt thanks to our friends from the French Air & Space Force for the enroute aerial refuelling support.
Merci beaucoup!@Armee_de_lair pic.twitter.com/5xPvUMiFRy
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) August 18, 2022
In September 2016, France and India signed a deal for €7.87 billion worth of 36 Rafale fighter planes ready to fly. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise announcement in April 2015 about the “critical operational necessity” of the IAF. This led to the decision.
In July 2022, Emmanuel Lenain, the French ambassador to India, said that France had given India all 36 Rafale fighter jets.
Global arms trade watchdog SIPRI says that between 2016 and 2020, France will be India’s second-largest exporter of arms. This is a huge increase from 2010 to 2015, when France was India’s third-largest exporter. This is also because of the Rafale deal and the weapons and infrastructure that come with it.
#WATCH Indian Air Force Su-30MKI fighter jets refuelling mid-air with tanker aircraft of French Air and Space Force
(Video source: IAF) pic.twitter.com/EoXYbHK2eR
— ANI (@ANI) August 18, 2022
The Indian Navy is looking for fighter planes that can fly from its aircraft carriers. The Rafale-M or Marine, a naval version of the French jet, is competing with Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet for the job.
The F-18 did a demonstration in May, and the Rafale-M flew from the Navy’s test station in Goa in January to show that it could work with the F-18.
As a strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific area, France needs India very much. On August 10–11, a group from the French Air and Space Force, which included three Rafale fighters, stopped at the Indian Air Force’s Sulur station in Tamil Nadu. This was a strategically important stop.
With the code name Pégase 22, the French troops in the Indo-Pacific are on a very important long-range mission. The fueling and stopover at the Indian Air Force airbase in Sulur, near Coimbatore in the state of Tamil Nadu, showed that the two air forces trust and work well together.
Recently, the French Air Force refuelled the Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jets as they headed to Darwin to take part in Pitch Black 2022.