The first batch of five Indian Air Force Rafale ﬁghter jets, built by French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation, arrived at Ambala Air Force Station in the state of Haryana on July 29.
The first batch consists of three single seater and two twin seater aircraft. No 17 Squadron, the “Golden Arrows”, is being raised at Ambala AFS equipped with Rafale aircraft.
The jets departed Dassault Aviation’s Mérignac facility in France on July 27. They covered a distance of nearly 7000 kms from France to India.
The ferry of the aircraft was planned in two stages and was undertaken by the pilots of the IAF, who have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft. Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) 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 A330 MRTT Aerial refueling aircraft.
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 last year. This ceremony was attended by the French Minister for Armed Forces Florence Parly and the Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
As of now, the delivery of ten Rafale aircraft has been completed on schedule. Five of these aircraft will stay back in France for training mission. The delivery of all 36 aircraft is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
In accordance with the contract. IAF pilots and supporting personnel have been provided full training on aircraft and weapon systems by Dassault. Further batches of IAF personnel will continue the training over the next nine months.