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First five Indian Air Force Rafale fighter jets arrive in India

aerobd.news : The first batch of five Rafale fighter jets built for the Indian Air Force by French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation arrived at Ambala Air Force Station in the state of Haryana on July 29. These jets departed Dassault Aviation’s Mérignac facility in France on July 27 and covered nearly 7,000 km from the Merignac airbase near the French port city of Bordeaux.

The ferry of the five aircraft – three single-seaters and two double-seaters– had begun their journey on Monday from the Merignac airbase in the French port city of Bordeaux and will be inducted into the Indian Air Force’s No 17 Squadron, also known as the ‘Golden Arrows’.

The ferry flight was planned in two stages and was undertaken by the pilots of the IAF. Air-to-Air Refuelling was conducted during the first leg of the ferry flight, which took the aircraft to Al Dhafra Air Base in UAE, with dedicated tanker support from the French Air Force Airbus A330 MRTT aerial refueling aircraft, Defence Post reports.

In 2016, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition for $8.8 billion. Out of the 36 Rafales ordered for the IAF, 28 are single-seat jets, designated Rafale EH, and the remaining are dual-seat jets, designated Rafale DH.

The Air Force “technically” accepted the first Rafale, twin-seat version of the jet, during a ceremony in Bordeaux on Sept. 19. The aircraft, with tail number RB-001, was accepted by a team led by IAF Deputy Chief Air Marshal VR Chaudhari. RB in the tail number marks the role played by Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria in finalizing the deal to procure the jets in September 2016. The Indian Air Force formally received its first Rafale aircraft during a ceremony at Dassault Aviation’s Rafale final assembly facility in Mérignac in Bordeaux, France on Oct. 8, 2019. Five of the 10 Rafales already manufactured will remain in France for training missions. The delivery of all 36 aircraft is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

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Rajowan Syed

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