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India, France, UAE Conduct Joint Air Exercise Over Arabian Sea

In a significant move towards strengthening military cooperation and addressing regional security concerns, India, France, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) conducted a major air exercise, named ‘Desert Knight’, over the Arabian Sea. This joint exercise, held on January 23, 2024, comes against the backdrop of rising global concerns over Houthi militants targeting commercial vessels in strategic waterways.

Objectives of ‘Desert Knight’

Enhancing Interoperability and Synergy

The main focus of ‘Desert Knight’ was to enhance synergy and interoperability among the air forces of the participating countries. The exercise aimed to foster a shared understanding of operational tactics and enhance coordination in complex air scenarios.

Addressing Regional Security Challenges

Amid increasing attacks by Houthi militants in the Red Sea, the exercise served as a strategic response, showcasing the collective resolve of the participating nations in safeguarding crucial maritime routes and promoting regional stability.

Participation and Assets

Diverse Array of Aerial Assets

The exercise featured an impressive array of frontline aerial assets and combat jets. The Indian Air Force (IAF) participated with Su-30 MKI, MiG-29, and Jaguar fighter jets, along with AWACS, C-130-J transport planes, and air-to-air refuelling aircraft. The French and UAE air forces operated their aircraft, including Rafale jets, from the Al Dhafra air base in the UAE.

Operative Bases and Flight Information Regions

The IAF aircraft operated from several bases across India, within the Indian Flight Information Regions (FIRs). FIRs, which divide all airspace worldwide, are managed by controlling authorities responsible for ensuring air traffic services to aircraft within these regions.

Strategic Implications

Strengthening Trilateral Ties

This exercise underscores the deepening military ties between India, France, and the UAE. It reflects a growing trend of collaborative defense strategies among nations sharing common security interests.

Enhancing Regional Security

By conducting ‘Desert Knight’, the three nations have demonstrated their commitment to maintaining peace and stability in a region that is critical for international maritime trade and energy security.

Broader Context: Republic Day Celebrations

Participation of French Forces in Republic Day

The trilateral exercise precedes India’s Republic Day celebrations, where the French Air Force’s Rafale jets and an Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport aircraft will also be featured. A 95-member marching contingent and a 33-member band contingent from France will participate in the parade.

French President as Chief Guest

Emphasizing the close Indo-French relations, French President Emmanuel Macron will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, becoming the sixth leader from France to grace this prestigious annual event.

Important Questions Related to Exam

  1. What is the name of the joint air exercise conducted by India, France, and the UAE over the Arabian Sea?
  2. Which nations participated in the joint air exercise, and what were the key aerial assets involved?
  3. Which French leader will be the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations in 2024?

Kindly share your responses in the comment section!!

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