IAF chief flags off 4 Rafale jets | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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IAF chief flags off 4 Rafale jets

Apr 22, 2021 12:41 AM IST

New Delhi: Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on Wednesday flagged off four Rafale fighter jets from Merignac-Bordeaux airbase in France to India, officials familiar with the development said

New Delhi: Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on Wednesday flagged off four Rafale fighter jets from Merignac-Bordeaux airbase in France to India, officials familiar with the development said.

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This is the fifth ferry of Rafale jets from France to India and their arrival will take the total number of French-origin fighters in the IAF inventory to 18.

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“Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on an official tour to France lauds pilots & sees off the next batch of Rafales on a non-stop flight to India with mid-air refueling by French Air force & UAE. Thanks France esp FASF (French Air and Space Force) & French Industry for timely delivery & pilot training on schedule despite covid,” the Indian embassy in France said on Twitter.

Bhadauria reached France on a five-day official visit on Monday. The fighters are expected to land at an Indian airbase late Wednesday night.

India ordered 36 warplanes from France (equivalent of two squadrons) in September 2016 for 59,000 crore under a government-to-government deal. The arrival of four jets will enable the completion of the first squadron of these fighters in Ambala and set the stage for raising the second squadron at Hasimara in West Bengal. All the 36 planes are likely to join the IAF’s fighter fleet by the year-end.

Bhadauria, who visited the Rafale conversion training centre in France on Wednesday, said: “The Centre has provided world-class training and it is because of the level and quality of training that we were able to operationalise the aircraft quickly. It is to the credit of the French industry that despite the Covid restrictions, they were able to meet the training requirements in time, and deliver all the aircraft so far more or less in time.” He said some planes were delivered ahead of time.

“This has really contributed to the overall combat potential of IAF. I would like to thank the French government, French air force and the industry,” he said.

IAF has operated the fighter jets in the Ladakh theatre where the military is on high alert amid a border standoff with China and where both sides are negotiating disengagement of troops at friction points along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC).

India’s Rafale jets are equipped with modern weapons such as the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, Mica multi-mission air-to-air missiles, Scalp deep-strike cruise missiles and the Hammer smart weapon.

India-specific enhancements on the jets include cold engine start capability to operate from high-altitude bases such as Leh, radar warning receivers, flight data recorders with storage for 10 hours of data, infrared search and track systems, jammers and towed decoys to ward off incoming missiles.

The twin-engine jet is capable of carrying out a variety of missions -- ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance, and nuclear strike deterrence. It can carry more than nine tonnes of weapons on 14 hard points.

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