A fresh batch of three Rafale fighter jets landed in India on Wednesday evening after flying almost 7,000 km non-stop from France, in a further boost to the air power capability of the Indian Air Force. The aircraft were provided mid-air refuelling by the air force of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the IAF said.
“Three Rafale aircraft arrived in India a short while ago, after a direct ferry from Istres Air Base, France. IAF deeply appreciates the support by UAE Air Force for in-flight refuelling during the non-stop ferry,” the IAF said in a tweet. The new batch of the aircraft will be part of the IAF’s second squadron of the Rafale jets. The second squadron will start operations by July-end at Hashimara Air Force Base in West Bengal, with the Rafale aircraft that have already arrived in Ambala flying there from next week, government sources told. This is the seventh set of these planes. The first Rafale squadron is based in the Ambala air force station. It had already started patrolling the borders with China in eastern Ladakh and other areas. The first batch of five French-made multirole Rafale fighter jets had arrived in India on July 29 last year, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to purchase 36 of the aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
The multirole Rafale jets, built by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, are known for air-superiority and precision strikes. The delivery of all 36 Rafale jets is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021. Among 36 aircraft, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers.