Indian Air Force Rafale Fighter: Indian Air Force has received three more Rafale fighter jets at Jamnagar airbase located in western state of Gujarat near Pakistan border on Wednesday. These three Rafale jets arrived at the airbase after a non-stop 8 hour long flight as they were refuelled thrice by the air-tankers of French air force on their way to India.
With this, the IAF has acquired eight of the 36 Rafale jets in service. “Three Rafale jets flew directly from Istres in France to Jamnagar, an eight-hour-plus non-stop flight,” a source said.
The first batch of five Rafale jets were formally inducted into the No. 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron of the Indian Air Force on September 10, at Ambala airbase located in western state of Punjab near Pakistan border.
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Indian Air Force received first 5 Rafale fighters in September
The five Rafale fighters arrived in India in July with a stopover at the Al Dhafra airbase in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
During the first leg of the flight from the Merignac airbase at Bordeaux in France to the UAE, the jets were accompanied by the French Air Force mid-air refuellers. For the journey from the UAE, they were accompanied by IAF midair air-tankers.
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The five jets, three single seat and two twin-seater trainers, were flown from France by IAF pilots led by Commanding Officer of No. 17 squadron Group Captain Harkirat Singh.
India is expected to receive all 36 Rafale jets by the end of 2021. While the first squadron of 18 fighters is based in Ambala, Punjab, the second squadron would be based at Hasimara in West Bengal near China border.
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Last month, Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria confirmed that the force would get three or four Rafale fighters every two or three months till all 36 jets were delivered and that the first squadron would be fully ready by 2021-end and the second by 2023.
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IAF Rafale squadrons to be fully operational by 2023
“In the next three years, we will see the Rafale and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) MK1 squadrons operating with full strength, along with additional Su-30MKI and MiG 29 aircraft, that are being ordered in addition to the current fleets,” RKS Bhadauria had said.
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In September 2016, India signed a 7.87 billion euro inter-governmental agreement (IGA) with France to acquire 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets from French defence giant Dassault Aviation in fly-away condition with 13 India Specific Enhancements.