9 Rafales set to fly into India next month with mid-air fuelling in UAE
New Delhi, Mar 25: India is set to add more fire-power in the skies with the Indian Air Force set to get three more Rafale fighters next week. The three Rafale fighters will land at Ambala and by April another 9 more would make their way to India.
Meanwhile, the Hasimara forward base in north Bengal will start operations next month with five Rafale fighters.
In all the IAF has ordered 36 warplanes at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. India had ordered the jets from France in September 2016 under a government to government deal.
The additional jets will bolster the capabilities of the Golden Arrows Squadron of the Indian Air Force. This is crucial as it comes at a time when the tensions with China have been escalated along the Line of Actual Control at eastern Ladakh.
By April 2021, 16 omni role Rafale jets will be inducted into the Golden Arrows Squadron. On September 10, five French-made multirole Rafale fighter jets were inducted into the Indian Air Force in a glittering ceremony at the Ambala air force base.
Nine more would arrive in April and this would take the total number of fighters handed over to the Indian Air Force to 23. While the Golden Arrows Squadron would be complete with 18 fighters, the remaining three would be sent to the Hashimara airbase in north Bengal's Alipurduar. This would aid in countering the Chinese threat in the eastern front.
The UAE would deploy its Airbus 330 multi-role transport tankers later this month to provide mid-air fuelling to the Rafale jets. This would ensure that the fighters can fly non-stop to India.
The facility would be extended by UAE to the next batch of 9 Rafale jets that would be flagged off from France in April. This would mean that the second base of the Rafale fighters located in Bengal's Hasimara would be activated in April.
It was decided to request UAE for help was taken after the Indian Air Force's earlier experience that found that the use of French re-fuellers slowed down the speed of the fleet of the fighter jets.