NEW DELHI: The second batch of three Rafale fighters touched down in India from France on Wednesday night, joining the first five jets that had arrived at the Ambala airbase on July 29.
The three jets arrived at the Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat after flying non-stop from France, with mid-air refueling on the way, at 8.14 pm. As per the delivery schedule, three to four jets will reach India every two to three months till all the 36 are delivered under the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked with France in September 2016.
The second batch of three Rafale aircraft got airborne from Istres airbase in France and flew for over eight hours… https://t.co/uHx66Le9rq
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) 1604508995000
The first five Rafales, which were formally inducted into service at the Ambala airbase on September 10, have conducted “familiarization sorties” in Ladakh amidst the ongoing military confrontation in the high-altitude region with China.
The 4.5-generation Rafales have a combat range of 780-km to 1,650-km, without mid-air refueling, depending on the nature of their mission. The fighters are armed with long stand-off weapons like the over 300-km range `Scalp’ air-to-ground cruise missiles.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria had earlier declared that the twin-engine Rafales will “intimidate and dominate whenever and wherever” they are deployed.
IAF currently has deployed an “adequate number” of frontline Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage-2000, MiG-29 and other fighters as well as Chinook heavy-lift and Apache attack helicopters in Ladakh as well as other stretches along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control with China to cater for any contingency.
The Rafales, if required in an emergency, can also be combat deployed swiftly. The Ambala and Hashimara airbases are eventually slated to house 18 Rafales each for the western and eastern fronts.