The anticipation among Indians about the imminent arrival of the first five Rafale jets is already sky-high. The Indian Air Force (IAF) took that excitement a notch higher by sharing breathtaking mid-air visuals of the stunning aircraft.
The first batch of five Rafale fighter jets, on their way to India, was seen being re-fuelled mid-air from a French Air Force tanker, and the pictures taken at 30,000 feet were posted on Twitter by the Indian Air Force. These five jets include 3 single-seater and 2 twin-seater aircraft.
The two-leg flight involves the Rafales covering a distance of over 7,000 km. The five fighters landed safely at Al Dhafra after a seven-hour flight from France on Monday evening. The French air force refueled the Indian fighters using its Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft on their way to Al Dhafra. Aerial refueling support will be provided by the IAF’s Russian Ilyushin-78 refuellers for the second leg of the journey from Al Dhafra to Ambala.
The jets built by Dassault Aviation – and piloted by officers from the Indian Air Force – took off from Merignac in southwest France, the company said in a statement. By Wednesday, after a 7,364-km journey with the UAE pit-stop, they should be at the Ambala airbase in India.
Indian Air Force appreciates the support provided by French Air Force for our Rafale journey back home. @Armee_de_lair @Indian_Embassy @Dassault_OnAir #Rafale#IndianAirForce pic.twitter.com/7Ec8oqOJmr
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) July 28, 2020
Capabilities of Rafale fighter jets
Rafale jets have been laced with cutting-edge technology and armed with the long-range Meteor air-to-air missiles and SCALP. It has been suggested that the Rafales would give India an edge over both Pakistan and China in terms of air strike capability. Sources said the air-to-air and the air-to-ground strike capabilities of the Rafale cannot be matched by both China and Pakistan and the aircraft would give India an edge over both the rivals.
It is learned that the IAF will further boost the capabilities of the combat aircraft by equipping it with the HAMMER missiles from France. The order for the HAMMER standoff missiles is being processed under the emergency powers for acquisition given to the armed forces by the Centre. HAMMER missiles have the capability to take out any type of targets at the range of around 60-70 km.
According to the contract between India and France, a total of 36 IAF pilots are to be trained on the Rafale combat jets by French aviators. While most of the IAF pilots will be trained in France, some of them will undergo the exercise in India. Out of the 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers. The trainer jets will be twin-seater and they will have almost all the features of the fighter jets. The five aircraft are a part of the first tranche of 36 planes bought by India from France in a Rs 59,000-crore inter-governmental deal in 2016.