LAST UPDATED: April 1, 2021, 10:59 a.m.
New Delhi: Three more Rafale fighter jets from France reached India on Wednesday. According to the Indian Air Force (IAF), the aircraft flew from France and reached India directly without stopping.
The Indian Embassy in France said on Twitter that a United Arab Emirates (UAE) aircraft carried out mid-air refueling of these fighter jets.
The first batch of five Rafale aircraft reached India on July 29, 2020. About four years ago, there was a deal to buy 36 Rafale aircraft from France for Rs 59,000 crore. These aircraft were officially inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) at an event in Ambala on September 10 last year.
India had signed a deal for 36 Rafale fighter planes with France, out of which 11 had reached India earlier.
The Rafale fighter planes which have reached India are part of the Golden Arrow Squadron based at Ambala. Another 10 Rafale aircraft are to come, they will be stationed at Hashimara in West Bengal.
With this, now the number of Rafale aircraft in the IAF has risen to 21. The IAF will get 7-8 fighter jets in the second half of next month.
“This will greatly boost our ability to fulfill our missions,” senior government sources told ANI.
The Rafale aircraft were inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) in July–August last year.
The Rafale aircraft was also deployed to patrol eastern Ladakh and other fronts along the Chinese border. After arriving in the country from France, the Rafale aircraft will be stationed at Ambala and some of them will later be sent to Hashimara, where the process of starting a second squadron has already started.
India ordered 36 fighter jets from France in September 2016 and by the end of April, more than 50 percent of these Rafale fighter aircraft have arrived in India. India is now going to place orders for 114 multirole fighter jets of indigenously developed Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, whose seven squadrons will join the Air Force over the next 15–20 years.
The second set of Rafale fighter jets reached India in November, after the aircraft were formally inducted in September. Twin-engine Rafale jets are capable of carrying out a variety of missions including ground and sea attack, air defense and air superiority, reconnaissance and nuclear strike.
Rafael, carrying long-range airborne missiles, has given an edge over the Chinese and Pakistani rivals of Indian aircraft. Aircraft equipped with Hammer missiles have enhanced their ability to carry out airstrikes like Balakot.