Second batch of three Rafale fighter jets arrive in India after flying non-stop from France, says IAF

India received the second batch of three Rafale combat aircraft as the jets landed in Jamnagar in Gujarat.

Second batch of three Rafale fighter jets arrive in India after flying non-stop from France, says IAF

In a major boost to the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) firepower, India on Wednesday received the second batch of three Rafale combat aircraft. The three Rafale jets landed in Jamnagar, Gujarat after flying non-stop from France.

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Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, the IAF announced that the fighter jets arrived in India at 8.14 pm. "Second batch of IAF #Rafale aircraft arrived in India at 8:14 pm on 04 Nov 20 after flying non-stop from France," tweeted the IAF.

The Rafale jets flew directly from Istres in France and were accompanied by French Air Force mid-air refuelling aircraft. The IAF said the three aircraft got airborne from Istres airbase in France and flew for over eight hours covering over 3,700 nautical miles before landing in India.

"The second batch of three Rafale aircraft got airborne from Istres airbase in France and flew for over eight hours before landing at an IAF base. They covered a distance of over 3700 nautical miles with three in-flight refuellings," the IAF said in another tweet.

The IAF further tweeted, "IAF deeply appreciates the tanker support extended by French Air Force for the direct ferry by second batch of IAF Rafales."

With three more Rafale fighter jets, the IAF will now have eight Rafale jets in service. India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of these aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.

The development comes even as tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China continue. The Chinese build-up at the LAC remains despite a series of diplomatic and military talks. 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's office said he congratulated the IAF for successfully accomplishing a "highly complex mission" in a professional and safe manner.

"The IAF pilots brought home the second batch of three Rafale aircraft today after flying non-stop from France in a ferry that lasted for over 8 hours. RM Rajnath Singh congratulates IAF for successfully accomplishing a highly complex mission in a professional & safe manner," tweeted the RMO.

Earlier, five Rafale jets flew to the Ambala airbase via Abu Dhabi on July 29 and have already been inducted into the IAF’s Squadron 17. The five Rafale jets were inducted at the IAF’s Ambala airbase on September 10 in the presence of Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart Florence Parly. Under the 2016 agreement, India will get 36 Rafale jet from France as part of a Rs 59000 crore deal. 

The Rafale jets, manufactured by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia. Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on October 5 said that the induction of all 36 Rafale jets will be completed by 2023. 

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.

Rajnath Singh had said that the Rafale deal is a game-changer. "I am confident our air force has acquired a technological edge with Rafale," the minister had pointed out. The Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture. It is an omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie.

The fighter aircraft has HAMMER missiles. It will also be armed with beyond visual range missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.

Besides, the induction of 16 additional Rafale fighters by April 2021 will add to the IAF’s strike capability. The 16 omni-role Rafale jet fighters will be inducted into the Golden Arrows squadron by April 2021, as per sources.

France’s biggest jet engine maker Safran has said that it is ready to make fighter engines and ancillaries in India, according to people familiar with the matter.

All the fighters are equipped with Mica and Meteor air-to-air missiles along with Scalp air-to-ground cruise missiles. India has now requested Safran for the air-to-ground modular weapon known as Hammer with a 250kg warhead.

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