A second batch of three Rafale fighter jets arrived at Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat, India on Wednesday evening after flying non-stop from Istres, France, the Indian Air Force (IAF) confirmed, according to local media.
The three Rafale fighter aircraft took off from the French airbase and reached India after three mid-air refueling en route. The aircraft took over 8 hours to reach directly from France showcasing the long-range operational capability of the Air Force.
With the arrival of three more omni-role aircraft, the IAF will now have eight Rafale jets in service.
The first batch of five Rafales flew into India on July 28 and were officially inducted with a spectacular event on September 10 Ambala Air Base in the 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ Squadron. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, French Defense Minister Florence, Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat and Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria had attended the event.
IAF’s Sarang aerobatic team showcased a breathtaking display, indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas conducted sorties marked the ceremony. The mega event also witnessed spectacular air display of Rafale fighter aircraft flanked by SU-30 and Jaguar aircraft in an arrow formation.
The Rafale fighter jets are manufactured by French giant Dassault Aviation. India has signed an inter-governmental deal with France to buy 36 of these jets at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. All 36 jets are expected to reach India by the end of 2021.
Currently, the IAF’s fighter jet arsenal comprises of Rafale, Sukhois, LCA Tejas, Mirage 2000s and MIGs.
The air force is also equipped with Apaches and Chinooks helicopters and transport aircraft like the C-130Js and C-17 Globemaster III.
Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Rudra, Mi-35 a twin-engine turboshaft, assault, anti-armor, IL-76 also referred to as “Gajraj” are also part of IAF’s arsenal.
The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. The fully versatile Rafale is able to carry out all combat aviation missions: air superiority and air defense, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006. With more than 30,000 flight hours in operations, it has proven its worth in combat in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. The Rafale was ordered by Egypt, Qatar and India.