NEW DELHI: It was reported recently that the Indian Air Force (IAF) has received the seventh batch of three more Rafale fighter jets. The French-made Dassault Rafales arrived in India after flying non-stop for a distance of almost 8,000km from France. According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), India has so far received 26 Rafale aircraft out of the 36 it has ordered from Dassault Aviation, with 24 landed in India and remaining two kept for IAF pilot and technician training in France. MoD added that the delivery of 36 Rafale aircraft is proceeding as per schedule. France will have delivered a total of 35 omni-role Rafale fighters by end-2021 to India with the last fighter making a solo journey in January 2022. The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29 last year.
The latest Rafale batch will be a part of IAF’s second squadron and will be based in Hasimara airbase in West Bengal. The first Rafale squadron of 18 aircraft is currently based in the Ambala air force station. The Rafale squadron will be deployed alongside the regular squadron of IAF’s Su-30MKI in the eastern sector in significant numbers.
Earlier in September 2016 India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around $8.8 billion. The omni-role Rafale jets are to further boost to the strike capability of the Indian Air Force. The Rafale jets are India’s first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.
The twin-engine Rafale jets are capable of carrying out a variety of missions of ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance, and nuclear strike deterrence. The platform is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets. –shp/kf/aaa (Photo: Indian Air Force)