Rafale Jets Get Fuel Mid-Air, IAF ‘Appreciates Help’ From France
The aircraft will be refuelled by French Air Force tanker aircraft on their way to an airbase in the UAE.
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
“Appreciate the support provided by French Air Force for our Rafale journey back home,” the Indian Air Force said on Tuesday, 28 July, reported ANI, as images of Rafale fighter jets being refuelled mid-air, en route Ambala, emerged.
The Indian Air Force had, according to an ANI report, announced on Monday that “all five Rafales had landed safely at Al Dhafra air base in UAE after a sortie in excess of seven hours.”
“The first five Indian Air Force Rafales have taken off from Dassault Aviation Facility, Merignac, France today morning,” the Indian Air Force (IAF) had tweeted, earlier in the day.
The five aircraft comprise of 3 single-seaters and 2 twin-seaters. Indian Air Force pilots will be ferrying down the aircraft to India in two stages.
IAF also shared that the Rafales are likely to reach Air Force Station in Ambala on 29 July.
“Number 17 Squadron ‘The Golden Arrows’, is being raised at Ambala with Rafale aircraft,” informed IAF.
The aircraft were refuelled by a French Air Force tanker aircraft, while they were on their way to the airbase in the UAE.
India is slated to get 36 such aircraft by the end of 2021.
‘Swift, Versatile & Very Deadly’
“These five Rafale jets are extremely swift, versatile and very deadly aircraft. They are both beauty and beast. I would like to thank Dassault for delivering aircraft on time and the French Government and French Air Force for all the support,” Jawed Ashraf, Indian Ambassador to France said.
Ashraf also visited visited the Rafale Assembly line, training facilities and interacted with officials from Dassault Aviation.
After their arrival, efforts will focus on operationalisation of the aircraft at the earliest.
“IAF aircrew and ground crew have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly advanced weapons systems and are fully operational now,” the IAF had said last week.
The Rafale fighter aircraft will be armed with beyond-visual-range missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.
Of the two squadrons, one will be at the Ambala Air Force Station and the other at Hashimara and will be dedicated for the northern borders.
The ‘Golden Arrows’ 17 Squadron, which operated from the Bhatinda air base, was disbanded in 2016 after the Indian Air Force started gradual phasing out of Russian-origin MiG-21 jets. It was formed in 1951 and initially flew de Havilland Vampire F Mk 52 fighters.
The squadron has been resurrected and will be the first unit to fly the multi-role Rafale fighter jets.
India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in 2016 to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets for Rs 58,000 crore.
(With inputs from IANS, ANI, PTI)
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