India receives the fifth batch of Rafale fighter jets from France
Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria flagged off fifth batch of Rafales from France’s Merignac Air Base
India on Wednesday received its fifth batch of Rafale fighter jets from France. Amid his ongoing five-day official visit to France, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria flagged off the four Rafale aircraft from Merignac Air Base in France to India.
As per the Indian Air Force (IAF), the fighter jets flew non-stop for almost 8,000 km to reach India, with mid-air refuelling provided by air forces of France and the UAE.
Taking to Twitter, the IAF thanked both the air forces of France and the UAE for their cooperation during the operation.
In France, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria visited the Rafale aircraft training facility and took a review of the training of the fighter jets. He said some of the Rafale aircraft have been delivered a little ahead of time, adding that the fighter jets have enhanced IAF’s combat potential. He further thanked the government of France and the French air force for their support to the training programmes and ferrying of fighter jets to India.
“The Rafale training centre has provided world-class training and it is because of that that we were able to operationalise the aircraft quickly,” the IAF Chief said.
During his visit to the European nation, RKS Bhadauria held talks with a number of French military officials with the aim of enhancing cooperation between IAF and the French air force. He also took stock of the production and estimated delivery timeline of the remaining fighter jets.
The arrival of the new batch has increased the number of Rafale aircraft with the IAF to 18. It will further pave the way for the IAF to upraise the second squadron of the Rafale fighter jets at the Hasimara airbase in West Bengal. The first Rafale squadron is placed at the IAF’s Ambala air force station.
In September 2016, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft at an approximate cost of ₹ 58,000 crores. India received its first batch of five Rafale jets from France on July 29, 2020, almost four years after signing the agreement.
While 18 of the 36 Rafale aircraft have reached India so far, another six are reportedly scheduled to be flagged off in the coming weeks. The Rafale jets are manufactured by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation.