The second batch of Indian Air Force’s three Rafale fighter jets arrived in India directly from France on Wednesday.
“Second batch of IAF #Rafale aircraft arrived in India at 8:14 pm on 04 Nov 20 after flying non-stop from France,” the IAF wrote on Twitter.
An official had earlier said, “The three jets will not have a stopover on their way. They will be refueled by French and Indian tankers during the journey. The jets are expected to reach Ambala after a one-day break at Jamnagar,” the officials said.
The first batch of five Rafale jets of the 36 ordered by the IAF had reached the Ambala airbase on July 29 after a stopover at the Al Dhafra airbase near Abu Dhabi, although a formal induction ceremony took place later on September 10.
An Indian Air Force team, led by a two-star officer, reviewed the progress of the Rafale project in France last month ahead of the arrival of the second batch of fighters, as reported by Hindustan Times on October 16.
The arrival of more fighters will further boost the IAF’s capability to rapidly deploy the advanced jets amid tensions with neighbouring China and Pakistan, officials had earlier said.
The IAF is expecting three to four Rafale jets being delivered every two months, with all the 36 planes likely to join the air force’s combat fleet by the year-end.
The Rafale fighters are the first imported jets to be inducted into the IAF in 23 years after the Russian Sukhoi-30 jets entered service in June 1997. They have significantly enhanced the offensive capabilities of the IAF.
Rafale fighter jets are currently being operated in the Ladakh theatre where the military is on high alert to deal with any provocation by China amid the border standoff.
The jets were ordered from France in September 2016 under a government-to-government deal worth Rs59,000 crore. India-specific enhancements on the Rafales include a helmet-mounted sight, radar warning receivers, flight data recorders with storage for 10 hours of data, infrared search and track systems, jammers, cold engine start capability to operate from high-altitude bases and towed decoys to ward off incoming missiles.