New Delhi: The first batch of five Rafale jets have landed safely in Al Dhafra airbase on Monday (July 27) after a sortie in excess of 7 hours, according to reports coming in. The Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafales will fly out for India on Wednesday morning and reach Ambala Air Force Station in the afternoon.
The Rafale aircraft, which flew out from the airbase in the French port city of Bordeaux, will cover a distance of nearly 7,000 km with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates before arriving at the Ambala airbase on Wednesday.
The first batch of Rafales today took off from France for India, nearly four years after New Delhi inked an inter-governmental agreement with Paris to procure 36 of the multi-role fighter aircraft under a Rs 59,000-crore deal.
These Rafale jets are expected to significantly boost the Indian Air Force’s combat capabilities at a time India is locked in a tense border dispute with China in eastern Ladakh following the violent clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
According to an official statement, the delivery of 10 aircraft has been completed on schedule and five will stay back in France for training missions, adding that the delivery of all 36 aircraft will be completed by the end of 2021.
In October 2020, the first Rafale jet was handed over to the IAF during a visit to France by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
The first squadron of the Rafale jets will reportedly be stationed in Ambala air base, and the formal induction ceremony will be held in mid-August.
The IAF pilots and supporting personnel have reportedly been provided full training on the aircraft and weapon systems by Dassault.
The Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search, tracking systems besides the missile systems.
Out of 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers. The trainer jets will be twin-seater and they will have almost all the features of the fighter jets.
The Rafale jets are likely to be deployed in the Ladakh sector as part of IAF’s efforts to enhance its operational capabilities along the LAC with China in view of the border dispute with the Communist nation.