First batch of 5 Rafale jets for India takes off from France

New Delhi (NVI): The first batch of five Rafale jets has taken off from Merignac airbase in Bordeaux, France, today to join the growing Indian fleet of aircraft and are scheduled to arrive in the country on July 29.

These five include three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft. After the fighter jets arrive in the country, they will be officially inducted and join the Indian Air Force fleet in Haryana’s Ambala.

The five aircraft will be the first tranche of the 36 planes bought by India from France in a Rs 59,000-crore inter-governmental deal in 2016.

At least 12 IAF pilots and engineering crew members are fully trained on the Rafale fighter jets.

The crew of first batch of Rafale preparing to take off from Dassault Aviation Facility, Merignac, France today.

The ferry of the aircraft is planned in two stages and will be undertaken by the pilots of the IAF, who have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft. The Air to Air Refuelling planned during the first leg of the ferry will be undertaken by these pilots with dedicated tanker support from the French Air Force.

The aircraft are likely to arrive at Air Force Station, Ambala, on 29 July subject to weather. No 17 Squadron, the “Golden Arrows”, is being raised at this base equipped with Rafale aircraft.

The Indian ambassador to France, Jawed Ashraf, interacted with the Indian pilots before they took off from France.

The Indian embassy in France tweeted, “Bon Voyage: Indian Ambassador to #France interacts with the Indian pilots of the Rafale. Congratulates and wishes them a safe flight to India with a single hop.”

Indian envoy to France Jawed Ashraf thanked the French government and Dassault Aviation for the timely delivery of the Rafale jets. He also said, “Our Air Force pilots tell us that these are extremely swift, nimble, versatile and very deadly aircraft. You might call them both ‘Beauty and Beast’.”

The aircraft will be refueled mid-air and on land at French airbase in the United Arab Emirates on their way to Ambala, an official release by the Indian embassy in France stated.

The Rafale fighter jets are capable of carrying a range of highly effective weapons, including the Meteor air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile.

The 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 and tracking systems among others.

The new Rafales will add strategic depth and strength to India’s air combat capabilities. (Image credits: @Indian_Embassy)

The Air Force has also readied the required infrastructure to welcome the jets in its line-up. The first batch of Rafales is going to be a shot in the arm to the Indian Air Force, thereby enhancing its air prowess in present circumstances amid India-China border row.

One of the Rafale jets ready to take off from France airbase to India.

-CHK/ARK