In a major boost to the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) firepower, India on Wednesday received the second batch of three Rafale combat aircraft. The three Rafale jets landed in Jamnagar, Gujarat after flying non-stop from France.
Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, the IAF announced that the fighter jets arrived in India at 8.14 pm. “Second batch of IAF #Rafale aircraft arrived in India at 8:14 pm on 04 Nov 20 after flying non-stop from France,” tweeted the IAF.
The Rafale jets flew directly from Istres in France and were accompanied by French Air Force mid-air refuelling aircraft. With three more Rafale fighter jets, the IAF will now have eight Rafale jets in service. India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of these aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
Second batch of IAF #Rafale aircraft arrived in India at 8:14 pm on 04 Nov 20 after flying non-stop from France.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) November 4, 2020
The development comes even as tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China continue. The Chinese build-up at the LAC remains despite a series of diplomatic and military talks.
Earlier, five Rafale jets flew to the Ambala airbase via Abu Dhabi on July 29 and have already been inducted into the IAF’s Squadron 17. The five Rafale jets were inducted at the IAF’s Ambala airbase on September 10 in the presence of Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart Florence Parly. Under the 2016 agreement, India will get 36 Rafale jet from France as part of a Rs 59000 crore deal.
Rajnath Singh had said that the Rafale deal is a game-changer. “I am confident our air force has acquired a technological edge with Rafale,” the minister had pointed out. The Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture. It is an omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie.
The fighter aircraft has HAMMER missiles. It will also be armed with beyond visual range missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.
Besides, the induction of 16 additional Rafale fighters by April 2021 will add to the IAF’s strike capability. The 16 omni-role Rafale jet fighters will be inducted into the Golden Arrows squadron by April 2021, as per sources.
France’s biggest jet engine maker Safran has said that it is ready to make fighter engines and ancillaries in India, according to people familiar with the matter.
All the fighters are equipped with Mica and Meteor air-to-air missiles along with Scalp air-to-ground cruise missiles. India has now requested Safran for the air-to-ground modular weapon known as Hammer with a 250kg warhead.