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Indian Air Force is getting its first batch of Rafale fighter jets next week

Dassault Rafale B aircraft (Alan Wilson/Flickr)
July 24, 2020

In the biggest announcement for the Indian Air Force (IAF) this year, the first five of 36 Dassault Rafale fighter jets are coming to India as a result of the 7.8 billion euro deal made in 2015 between India and France, Hindustan Times reported on Monday.

Scheduled to arrive on July 29, 2020, French aircraft maker Dassault is fast-tracking its delivery after a special request from India to deliver the aircraft earlier. Five aircraft will be delivered instead of four that were originally planned in the first batch, according to a timeline set forth by the deal.

In the first batch of five aircraft, three will be dual seater Rafale B variants, and two will be single-seater Rafale C variants. The jets will land at Ambala Air Force Station, which comes under IAF Western Air Command.

The aircraft will be inducted in a commissioning ceremony likely to be held in the second week of August. Additionally, the aircraft may be making a public appearance on October 8 during the Grand Flypast on India’s Air Force Day, which commemorates the 88th anniversary of the IAF.

In a statement, IAF confirmed that its pilots are now fully trained on the platform.

Known to be the state of the art multi-role fighter, Dassault Rafale is 4.5 generation combat aircraft designed and developed by French firm Dassault Aviation. With weapons like Meteor BVRAAM, MICA WVRAAM, SCALP-EG Stealth long-range Air to Ground Cruise Missile, and guided munitions like AASM Hammer, Rafale is feared to be top of the line European jet which is combat tested and proven effective on various grounds across enemy lines such as the Middle East and Libya.

India’s deal with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets was signed to stabilize the decreasing fleet of the IAF.  The deal came after a $20 billion tender for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) was scrapped due to negotiation regarding price and technology transfer to India.

The deal included 43 India-specific enhancement including uprated cold start engine, improved structure, customized avionics, and upgraded sensors, in addition to 10 years of maintenance, training, LRU spares and equipment demand, plus offset clause for additional business investment from France in the Indian market.

The incoming Rafale jets will be part of  No.17 “Golden Arrows” Squadron. The squadron is one of IAF’s oldest squadrons and played an important role during the Kargil War. The unit was resurrected again last year by then-Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanao, who has since retired.

Indian Rafale jets are designated as newest in its class and is equipped with advanced AESA Radar. It can also carry better payloads with a higher operational range.