In a big boost to the Indian Air Force (IAF), three more French Rafale multi-combat fighter jets took off from France on Wednesday for a non-stop flight to India with mid-air refuelling by UAE MRTT, said the Indian Embassy in France. The jets are expected to land at Jamnagar in Gujarat by 11 pm on Wednesday.
This batch will be 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 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. The first batch of five Rafale jets had reached the Ambala air base on July 29 after which they were formally inducted into the IAF in an event attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh, French defence minister Florence, chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat and air force chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. 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.