The first batch of five Rafale jets will reach India from France on Wednesday. On arrival, the aircraft will be officially inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet in Haryana's Ambala. Before the jets took off from France, the Indian ambassador to France interacted with the Indian pilots. "Bon Voyage: Indian Ambassador to #France interacts with the Indian pilots of the Rafale. Congratulates and wishes them a safe flight to India with a single hop," the Indian embassy in France tweeted.
Bon Voyage: Indian Ambassador to #France interacts with the Indian pilots of the Rafale. Congratulates and wishes them a safe flight to India with a single hop. #ResurgentIndia#NewIndia#Rafale@IAF_MCC@MeaIndia@rajnathsingh@Dassault_OnAir@DefenceMinIndia@PMOIndiapic.twitter.com/jk3IWD9tYU— India in France (@Indian_Embassy) July 27, 2020
In September 2016, India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 Rafale jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. The purchase was made with an intent to further strengthen the Indian Air Force's combat capabilities. According to the deal, the delivery of the jets was to be completed in 67 months from the date the contract was signed between the two parties.
In total, twelve IAF pilots and engineering crew members have received complete training on the Rafale fighter jets.
France had recently clarified that the timeline finalised for the supply of the fighter planes will be strictly respected amid speculation over delay in the delivery of Rafale jets due to coronavirus pandemic. French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain had said that there
will be no delay in delivery of Rafale jets to India.
The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of these jets.
Of 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers. The trainer jets will be twin-seater and will nearly have all the features of the fighter jets.Also read: Coronavirus update: COVID-19 tally crosses 14 lakh-mark; nearly 50,000 fresh cases in 24 hours