Five Rafale fighters, 7 pilots and 8,500 kilometer long journey home

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IAF Rafale: Indian Air Force Wednesday received five Rafale fighter jets at Ambala airbase located in North India. It was a gruelling test of both men and machine as they covered 8,500-kilometer long journey with the help of Indian and French Air Force refueller tankers. The five Rafale jets left from Dassault Aviation Facility, Merignac in France on Monday morning and reached India Wednesday afternoon, said Indian Air Force.

“The ferry was planned in two stages and was undertaken by IAF pilots. The aircraft covered a distance of nearly 8,500 kilometers from France to India, with a planned stopover en-route at Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE,” Indian Air Force said.

The first stage of the flight covered a distance of 5,800 kilometers in seven-and-a-half hours and was supported by French Air Force (FAF) Tankers that provided mid-air refuelling support during the flight.

The second leg of the flight covered a distance of over 2,700 kilometers and the fighters were refuelled by Indian Air Force tanker.

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India and France signed a Rs 59,000 crore government to government agreement in September 2016 for supply of 36 Rafale jets in a fly-away condition to meet the urgent operational requirements of Indian Air Force.

“IAF deeply appreciates the proactive support provided by the French Government and Industry in France to ensure timely delivery,” Indian Air Force said in a statement.

“The tanker support extended by French Air Force during the ferry was crucial in ensuring that the long haul flight was accomplished successfully and in a time bound manner,” IAF added.

Photo: IAF Rafale Ambala Airbase

Photo: Rafale at Ambala.

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The aircraft will be a part of 17 Squadron, the Golden Arrows, which was resurrected on September 20, 2019.

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The Squadron was originally raised at Air Force Station, Ambala on October 1, 1951. The 17 Squadron of Indian Air Force has a rich history. In 1955, it was equipped with first jet fighter, the legendary De Havilland Vampire.

In August 1957, the 17 Squadron (Golden Arrows) became the first to convert on to a swept wing fighter, the Hawker Hunter.

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Indian Air Force said the formal induction ceremony of the aircraft will take place in the second half of the next month.

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