After more than a decade of negotiation and hectic tender evaluation and later scrapping it off, the Indian Air Force (IAF) received their first batch of Dassault Rafale fighter jets.
The IAF’s first five Rafale, consisting of three dual-seaters and two single-seaters, took off from Mérignac in France on Monday. The jets were escorted by a French Air Force A330 mid-air refueller aircraft in the first leg of the journey for 7,000 km long air travel until they landed in UAE Airbase Al-Dafra for a day of rest. Later, the jets took off on Wednesday and entered Indian Airspace. There, two Su-30Mki joined the five aircraft for the second leg of travel over the Arabian Sea where Indian Navy Destroyer INS Kolkata greeted the commanding officer of the 17 Squadron.
— रक्षा मंत्री कार्यालय/ RMO India (@DefenceMinIndia) July 29, 2020
The aircraft landed safely at Ambala Airbase which comes under the IAF’s Western Air Command. After landing, they were greeted with the traditional Water Cannon Salute. Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria complimented the pilots and praised the professionalism of the crew for undertaking such a long sortie from France to India within just two days.
An induction ceremony has been planned in August at the Ambala base which is now home of the first Rafale Squadron “The Golden Arrows.” The Golden Arrows, or the 17 Squadron, is one of the oldest units in the IAF. The unit played a very important role during the Kargil War.
The Rafale is an Omni-Role Aircraft developed by France’s Dassault Aviation. In 2016, India signed a deal for 36 Rafale jets under urgent procurement basis contract.
According to Dassault, the aircraft is capable of executing various roles and is able to survive in a dense threat environment due to its stealthiness and advanced electronic warfare systems like SPECTRA. The induction of the Rafale into the IAF will play an important role in increasing the capabilities of the force.