Maj Gen Laurent Lherbette onboard Sukhoi Su-30MKI

French and Indian air forces are currently engaged in bilateral exercise at the Jodhpur airbase

The commander of the French Air Force contingent in India for a bilateral exercise got a first-hand cockpit experience of the IAF’s frontline fighter aircraft Su-30 MKI when he flew a sortie in the twin-seater jet.

“Maj Gen Laurent Lherbette of @Armee_de_lair all set to #LoopTumbleYaw into the weekend as he takes an adrenaline pumping ride of the #IAF #Flanker,” the IAF said on its official Twitter handle on Saturday.

General Lherbette, who has earlier been a Jaguar and Mirage-2000 pilot, is at present the Second-in-Command of the French Air Defence and Air Operations Command (Commandement de la Défense Aérienne et des Opérations Aériennes), which is responsible for surveillance of French airspace as well as all aerial operations.

The French side is participating with the Rafale fighter aircraft, Airbus A-330 multi-role tanker transport, A-400M tactical transport aircraft and approximately 175 personnel.

The Indian Air Force has also fielded its newly acquired Rafale fighters alongside the Mirage-2000, Su-30MKI, IL-78 flight refuelling aircraft and airborne early warning and control aircraft.

The five-day exercise marks an important milestone in the series of engagements between the two air forces, which have held six editions of air exercises named ‘Garuda’, the latest being in 2019 at Air Force Base Mont-de-Marsan in France, read an official statement.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhaduria also visited the Jodhpur airbase where the exercise is being held.

They also flew onboard aircraft and interacted with the participating personnel.