In a big boost for the Indian Air Force, at least three more French Rafale multi-combat fighter jets are expected to arrive in India next month.
This batch of Rafale fighters will be the third set of deliveries of the French-origin aircraft to the air force, which has ordered a total of 36 warplanes (the equivalent of two squadrons), HT reports.
“At least three Rafale jets will arrive in India next month. The dates are still being worked out. The planes will be flown to Jamnagar from France without a stopover on the way. Refuelling support will be provided by Indian and French tankers,” the people said.
Three more Rafale jets will be delivered in March and seven in April. The first batch of five Rafales flew into India on July 28 and was officially and they were officially inducted in September at Ambala Air Base in Haryana on September 10.
The Rafale fighter jets have been manufactured by French giant Dassault Aviation. India has signed an inter-governmental deal with France to buy 36 of these jets at a cost of Rs 59,000. All the birds are expected to reach India by the end of 2021.
The first batch of Rafale jets was formally inducted into the IAF with a spectacular event at Ambala airbase. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, French Defence Minister Florence, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria had attended the event.
Currently, the IAF’s fighter jet arsenal comprises of Rafale, Sukhois, LCA Tejas, Mirage 2000s and MIGs. The air force is also equipped with Apaches and Chinooks helicopters and transport aircraft like the C-130Js and C-17 Globemasters.
Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Rudra, Mi-35 a twin-engine turboshaft, assault, anti-armour, IL-76 also referred to as “Gajraj” are also part of IAF’s arsenal.