In a big boost to Indian Air Force (IAF), the third batch of three Rafale fighter jets landed in India on Wednesday evening after flying non-stop from France. The jets flew over 7000km with in-flight refuelling. With the arrival of the new batch, the number of Rafale aircraft has increased to 11.
This batch is the third set of deliveries of the Rafale aircrafts to the IAF. The air force had ordered a total of 36 warplanes at a cost of ₹59,000 crore from France in September 2016. This delivery will take the number of Rafales in the IAF’s inventory to 11.The first batch of five Rafale jets had flown into India on July 29 and officially inducted in the IAF on September 10 at the Ambala Air Base in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart Florence Parly. The second batch of three jets had arrived in India on November 4. The delivery of three jets will take the number of Rafale jets in the Indian Air Force’s inventory to 11. All 36 jets are likely to be inducted in the IAF by the end of 2021.
The second batch of the IAF’s three Rafale fighter jets had reached the Jamnagar airbase in early November last year before they flew to their homebase in Ambala. After the Russsian Sukhoi Su-30MKI that entered service in June 1997, the Rafale fighters are the first imported jets to join the IAF in 23 years. The jets are capable of carrying out ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance and nuclear strike deterrence. They can carry almost 10 tonnes of weapons. The India-specific enhancements on the Rafales include cold engine start capability to operate from high-altitude bases, radar warning receivers, flight data recorders with storage for 10 hours of data, infrared search and track systems, jammers and towed decoys to ward off incoming missiles.The Rafale jets are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapons system will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.The Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) of the United Arab Emirates provided mid-air refuelling to the three Rafale jets, according to the Indian Embassy in France. “Three more Rafale jets take off from France for a non-stop flight to India with mid-air refuelling by UAE MRTT; Adding more strength to India’s air power. Wishing our amazing pilots smooth flight&safe landing with superb fighter jets,” it tweeted.
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