India received the second batch of three Rafale combat aircraft Wednesday. The three Rafale jets landed in Jamnagar, Gujarat after flying non-stop from France. The Rafale jets flew directly from Istres in France and were accompanied by French Air Force mid-air refueling aircraft. With three more Rafale fighter jets, the IAF will now have eight Rafale jets in service. India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of these aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. The development comes even as tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China continue. The Chinese build-up at the LAC remains despite a series of diplomatic and military talks.
Earlier, five Rafale jets flew to the Ambala airbase via Abu Dhabi on July 29 and have already been inducted into the IAF’s Squadron 17. The five Rafale jets were inducted at the IAF’s Ambala airbase on September 10 in the presence of Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart Florence Parly. Under the 2016 agreement, India will get 36 Rafale jet from France as part of a Rs 59000 crore deal. Rajnath Singh had said that the Rafale deal is a game-changer. “I am confident our air force has acquired a technological edge with Rafale,” the minister had pointed out. The Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors, and fully integrated architecture. It is an Omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie. The fighter aircraft has HAMMER missiles. It will also be armed with beyond visual range missiles like Meteor, SCALP, and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.