India will receive sixth batch of three more Rafale combat aircrafts on Wednesday from Merignac-Bordeaux airbase in France. These Rafale jets are scheduled to land in Gujarat’s Jamnagar airbase first and then will fly to Ambala Air Force station before they are repurposed to Hashimara airbase in West Bengal later.
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Air Force’s Airbus 330 multi-role transport tankers will provide air-to-air refuelling to the jets over middle east skies.
“Next batch of three #Rafales leave from France to India today; wished the pilots smooth flight and safe landing,” tweeted India in France.
A Golden Arrows Squadron is already stationed at Ambala Air Force station. A squadron comprises around 18 aircraft. With the arrival of the new batch, the number of the Rafale aircraft will increase to 20 with another four expected to join within a fortnight from France. The second squadron will be stationed at Hashimara airbase, which is being overhauled.
Amid Covid-19 times, the process of inducting Rafale jets has become time consuming as the the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots will have to undergo complete quarantine in France before being allowed to fly back to India. The IAF is currently using seven Rafales to train the pilots in France, as reported by Hindustan Times.
The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29 last, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of the aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. The formal induction ceremony of the fleet had taken place at Ambala on September 10 last. A second batch of three Rafale jets arrived in India on November 3, while a third batch of three more jets joined the IAF on January 27. The fourth batch of three Rafale aircrafts arrived on March 31 and the fifth batch arrived India on April 21.
The Rafale jets are India’s first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia. The Rafale jets are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapons system will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.