The Indian Air Force (IAF) will induct its second squadron of the Rafale fighter jets in mid-April in West Bengal, people familiar with the Rafale induction said on Thursday. The fighter jets, they said, would be inducted at the Hasimara Air Force Station in Alipurduar district of the eastern state.
India’s first Rafale squadron, comprising five jets, was inducted into the IAF on September 10 last year after being flown to the country from France in July. The fighters are a part of the ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron and based at the Ambala Air Force station.
In September 2016, India and France came to an agreement over purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft, built and designed by the European nation’s Dassault Aviation. Over the next few years, there was a major controversy over the cost of the aircraft; however, the Supreme Court, in November 2018, cleared the deal, stating that no irregularities or corruption was found. In November 2019, it dismissed all review petitions challenging its judgement.
On January 26 this year, one Rafale jet of the IAF was a part of the flypast at the Republic Day celebrations, flying in a ‘Vertical Charlie’ formation, and, in the process, making its R-Day debut.