Three more Rafale jets arrive in India from France

They were refuelled in-flight by UAE Air Force tankers, says IAF

March 31, 2021 11:25 pm | Updated April 01, 2021 05:09 pm IST - New Delhi

A Rafale fighter jet which took off from France on Wednesday for a non-stop flight to India.

A Rafale fighter jet which took off from France on Wednesday for a non-stop flight to India.

The fourth batch of three Rafales landed on Wednesday evening flying directly from the Istres Air Base in France, the IAF said. This takes the number of Rafales in service to 14.

“Rafales were refuelled in-flight by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Air Force tankers. This marks yet another milestone in the strong relationship between the two air forces,” IAF said on Twitter.

The IAF is also set to raise the second Rafale Squadron at Hasimara in West Bengal by mid-April. More are expected to arrive shortly completing the first squadron, a defence official said.

Last September, the IAF inducted the batch of five Rafales of 36 jets contracted from France under a €7.87-billion Inter-Governmental Agreement signed in September 2016.

The second batch of three arrived last November , also flying non-stop with three in-flight refuellings supported by the French Air Force. The third batch of three Rafales too arrived in January flying non-stop from France.

The first Rafale squadron is based in Ambala air force station.

The Indian Air Force is set to raise the second squadron of the Rafale combat jets in mid-April and it will be based in Hasimara air base in West Bengal, according to military officials. India is expected to get more Rafale jets from France in the next few months.

The Rafale jets, manufactured by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.

The Rafale jets are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapons system will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.

The, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of the aircraft at a cost of ₹59,000 crore.

(With inputs from PTI)

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