In a boost to the Indian Air Force's (IAF) combat capability, the fourth batch of three Rafale fighter jets landed in Gujarat's Jamnagar on Wednesday, March 31, evening after flying non-stop from the Istres Air Base in France.
The jets were refuelled mid-air by UAE Air Force tankers. "The 4th batch of three IAF Rafales landed on Indian soil after a direct ferry from Istres Air Base France," the IAF tweeted.
It also thanked the UAE Air Force for refuelling the fighter jets mid-air, describing it as yet another milestone in the strong relationship between the two Air Forces.
Rafales were refueled in-flight by UAE Air Force tankers. This marks yet another milestone in the strong relationship between the two Air Forces.— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) March 31, 2021
Thank You UAE AF.@IndembAbuDhabi@Indian_Embassypic.twitter.com/6gFwh0AnjR
The Indian Embassy in France shared an image of the Rafale fighter jet and the pilots on the mission and tweeted, "Another batch of Rafale take to the skies on non-stop flight to India with mid-air refuelling by UAE. Indian Air power grows further."
Another batch of #Rafale take to the skies on non stop flight to India with mid air refueling by UAE. Indian Air power grows further!!#India#France#InFra— India in France (@Indian_Embassy) March 31, 2021
The Indian Embassy in France also shared a video of the Rafale taking off from the Istres Air Base with the caption, "Glimpses of another batch of Rafale which took off to the skies!"
Glimpses of another batch of #Rafale which took off to the skies!@MEAIndia@JawedAshraf5@IAF_MCC@harshvshringla@DrSJaishankar@PMOIndia@rajnathsingh@SpokespersonMoD@IndianDiplomacy@florence_parly@Dassault_OnAir@Armee_de_lairpic.twitter.com/bJCzzkCxW7— India in France (@Indian_Embassy) March 31, 2021
The aircraft was stationed in Ambala and then sent to Hashimara in West Bengal, where the process of raising a second squadron has already begun. With this, the count of Rafale jets reaches 14 as India already has 11 such flying planes with 17 Squadron based at Ambala airbase.
These planes were utilised for patrolling at the Indo-China border in eastern Ladakh during the peak of the confrontation between the Indian and Chinese militaries.
India received the first batch of five Rafale aircraft on July 29, 2020, almost four years after it signed the inter-governmental with France to purchase 36 jets at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
Following this, the second batch of three Rafale jets landed in India on November 3, 2020, and the third batch of another batch of three jets joined the IAF on January 27, 2021. The delivery of all 36 aircraft is likely to be completed by 2022-end.
Rafale fighter capabilities
Twin-engine Rafale jets can carry out a range of missions like ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance, and nuclear strike deterrence. The weapons package of the Rafale jets comprises Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapons system.
These planes have given an edge to Indian planes over their Chinese and Pakistani rivals due to the long-range Meteor air to air missiles. The jets, which are India's first major fighter plane acquisition since the Sukhoi planes, are also equipped with Hammer missiles, which enhanced the plane's abilities to carry out air to ground mission like the Balakot airstrike.