Five Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale jets flown by IAF pilots landed today at Ambala Air Force Station for entering service in No 17 Squadron “Golden Arrows.”
“The touch down of Rafale combat aircrafts in India marks the beginning of a new era in our Military History. I congratulate the IAF on a professionally executed ferry. This aircraft has very good flying performance and its weapons, radar and other sensors and Electronic Warfare capabilities are amongst the best in the world,” Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh tweeted July 29.
The French-built birds departed from Dassault Aviation Mérignac facility two days ago. These 5 jets include 3 single-seater and 2 twin-seater aircraft. They were accompanied by two A330 Phoenix MRTT refuelling planes from the French Air Force.
“The 2nd Stage of ferry was undertaken by IAF pilots covering nearly 8500km from France to India. First stage covered 5800km in seven and a half hours on 27 Jul. The support by French Air Force (FAF) for Tanker & transit facilities is deeply appreciated by the IAF,” the Air Force said.
The final induction ceremony will take place in second half of August.
“Over 2700 km of the 2nd stage was flown today from Al Dhafra Air Base Abu Dhabi to Ambala. On entering the Indian airspace, the Rafales were given an aerial welcome by two IAF Su-30 aircraft,” IAF added.
IAF aircrew and ground crew have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly advanced weapons systems and are fully operational now. Post arrival, efforts will focus on making the aircraft operational at the earliest.
The aircraft are part of a 36 aircraft deal which India has signed with Dassault Aviation, France. The deal includes weapons such as Scalp and Meteor missiles. As part of the deal Dassault will set up depot-level maintenance.