new Delhi: The first batch of five Rafale fighter jets from France departed on Monday. India had signed a deal of 59 thousand crore rupees with France four years ago to buy 36 Rafale aircraft for the Air Force. Officials said that the aircraft, which departed from Marignac Air Force Base in the port city of Bordeaux, France, will travel to Ambala Air Force Base on Wednesday, after traveling about seven thousand kilometers. In between, the aircraft is currently halted at Al Dafra Airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Indian Ambassador to France Javed Ashraf told the Indian Air Force pilots before the planes left for India, “You can call him (Rafael) both unmatched and strong.”
Officials said in the evening that all five Rafale aircraft have landed safely at Al Dafra Airport in UAE after a flight of about seven hours.
An Indian Air Force official said that the batch has three one-seater and two aircraft two-seater. These aircraft are expected to reach Ambala Air Force Station on Wednesday, when they will be formally inducted into the Indian Air Force as its 17th Squadron, also known as the ‘Golden Arrow’.
The Indian embassy in Paris said in a statement, “The supply of 10 aircraft is completed on time and five of these aircraft will stay in France for training missions. The supply of all 36 aircraft will be completed by the end of 2021. ” An Air Force official said the planes were refueled in the air during the flight. In this work, the help of a dedicated tanker of the French Air Force was taken.
The air force said in a statement, “The planes are likely to arrive at the air base in Ambala on July 29 if the weather (conditions) remain correct.” Rafael’s induction into the Air Force fleet is expected to significantly increase his combat capability. India is getting this fighter aircraft at a time when it is facing a deadlock with China on the border issue in East Ladakh.
The first Rafale aircraft was assigned to the Air Force during Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to France last year. Ashraf congratulated the pilots of the Indian Air Force on getting the first opportunity to fly the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft. He said, “Our Air Force pilots told us that they are very fast, agile, versatile and deadly.”
Ashraf thanked its manufacturer, Dasso Aviation, for supplying the consignment on time. He also thanked the French Government and the French Air Force for providing all necessary assistance. He said, ‘This (aircraft) will give more strength to our defense preparedness. They are also a powerful symbol of the strategic partnership between India and France.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Dusso Aviation, Eric Trappier, said it was another new ‘milestone’ in the “remarkable” collaboration that began between his company and the Indian Air Force in 1953. He said that despite the Kovid-19 epidemic, the program is running smoothly and supplies are on time. Preparation of the first squadron of Rafale planes will be done at Ambala Air Base.
Official sources said that Rafale aircraft are likely to be deployed in the Ladakh sector where the Air Force wants to further strengthen its operational capabilities along the Line of Actual Control with China. This aircraft is capable of carrying a variety of powerful weapons. European missile maker MBDS’s Mitor, Scalp cruise missile, Mica weapon system is included in the weapon package of Rafale fighters.