India gets the second batch of three more Rafale jets
In another booster to the firepower of the Air Force, three more Rafale fighter jets have flown to India from France. They would join the base station Ambala.
The next-generation fighter jets equipped with firepower flew from France Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat on Wednesday, officials familiar with developments informed.
The jets landed in Jamnagar last night without a stopover on the way, with refuelling support provided by the Indian and French tankers.
"Welcome home 'Golden Arrows'. Blue skies always," the Indian Air Force tweeted with a photo of the Rafales in the "Arrow formation". The IAF had also tweeted an audio clip of the Rafale fleet's exchange with a naval warship as they crossed the Indian Ocean.
Earlier, the first batch of five Rafale jets of the 36 ordered by the IAF had reached the Ambala Airbase on July 29 after a stopover at the Al Dhafra Airbase near Abu Dhabi, although a formal induction ceremony took place later on September 10.
The delivery began nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 aircraft at a cost of ? 59,000 crores.
The induction of all 36 jets will be completed by 2023, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria has said.
The arrival of more fighters will further boost the IAFs capability to rapidly deploy the advanced jets amid military tensions with China in the Ladakh theatre, the officials said.
The IAF is expecting three to four Rafale jets being delivered every two months, while all the 36 planes are likely to join the combat fleet of the Air Force by the year-end.
The Rafale fighters are the first imported jets to join the IAF in 23 years after the Russian Sukhoi-30 jets entered service in June 1997.
The IAF is operating the Rafale fighter jets in the Ladakh theatre where the military is on high alert to deal with any provocation by China.
IAF chief air chief marshal RKS Bhadauria last month had said that the integration of Rafale fighter jets brought in a platform armed with advanced weapons, sensors and technologies, giving operational and technological edge to the IAF.