The first batch of five French Rafale fighter jets will reach Haryana's Ambala and to join the Indian Air Force fleet on July 29 after flying a distance of about 7,000 km. The fighter jets took off from France on July 27 and made a halt in the UAE and will reach India soon.
Chief of Air Staff RKS Bhadauria will be present at the Ambala air base to receive the Rafale jets, which is India's first major fighter jet acquisition. Ahead of the landing, security has been beefed up near the Ambala air base and prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been imposed.
- The first batch of five Rafale jets will reach India, after a long wait of four years since the 59,000-crore deal to buy 36 jets was signed between India and France in 2016.
- Known as the 4.5 generation aircraft, the Rafale is considered to be one of the finest fighters and is described as an 'omnirole' aircraft that can take up several missions on a single flight.
- With its avionics, radars and weapon systems, the Rafale is much ahead of the F-16s that Pakistan uses or even the JF-20, the 5th generation stealth aircraft of China, which is yet to see combat.
- Six Rafale trainer aircraft will carry 'RB' series tail numbers, the initials for Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, who played a key role as lead negotiator for the mega deal.
- The Rafale jets, comprising three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft, will be inducted into the IAF fleet as part of its No 17 Squadron, also known as the 'Golden Arrows'.
- A formal induction ceremony of the Rafale jets will be held around mid-August.
- The first squadron of the aircraft will be deployed at the Ambala Air Force Station. The second squadron will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal.
- On their way to India, the jets were refuelled mid-air from a French tanker at a height of 30,000 feet.
- Reports say the Rafale jets are likely to be deployed in the Ladakh sector as part of IAF's efforts to boost its operational capabilities along Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in view of the ongoing border dispute.
The first Rafale jet was handed over to the IAF in October last year during Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's visit to France.
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