Five Rafael’s to land in India today and will join IAF’s ‘Golden Arrow’s squadron’. Chief of Air Staff RKS Bhadauria will be at the Ambala airbase to receive the Rafale jets.
The five jets are the first of a batch purchased in a controversial Rs 59,000-crore inter-governmental deal by New Delhi which hopes to rapidly deploy the aircraft amid simmering tensions with China.
These five jets will land in India this afternoon after covering a distance of nearly 7,000 km to join the Indian Air Force fleet. A Rs 59,000-crore deal was signed on September 23, 2016, for 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation. The full delivery of all the jets is expected to be completed by 2022.
They are accompanied by two A330 Phoenix MRTT refuelling planes from the French Air Force, one of which is carrying 70 ventilators, 100,000 test kits and a team of 10 health experts to aid in the fight against coronavirus.
Security has been increased near the airbase, located around 200 km from the border with Pakistan. Mass gatherings and clicking pictures have been prohibited. There are also restrictions on people gathering on rooftops and any filming or photography during the landing.
“Our air force pilots tell us that these are extremely swift, nimble, versatile and very deadly aircraft,” said India’s ambassador.
Delivery officially started in October last year when the first Rafale jet was handed over to the IAF during a visit to France by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.