UAE to deploy Airbus 330 to provide mid-air fuelling for Indian Rafales
New Delhi, Mar 15: 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 8 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 refuellers slowed down the speed of the fleet of the fighter jets.
The first squadron of the Rafale jets is stationed at Ambala Air Force station. The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29 last, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of the aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
The formal induction ceremony of the fleet had taken place at Ambala on September 10 last.
A second batch of three Rafale jets arrived in India on November 3, while a third batch of three more jets joined the IAF on January 27.
The sources said the second Rafale squadron is being raised at the next main operating base (MOB) at Hasimara in mid-April this year. India is expected to get more Rafale jets from France in the next couple of months.
A squadron comprises around 18 aircraft.
The Rafale jets are India''s first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.
The Rafale jets are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA''s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapons system will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.
The IAF is also procuring a new generation medium-range modular air-to-ground weapon system Hammer to integrate with the Rafale jets.
Hammer (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) is a precision-guided missile developed by French defence major Safran.
The missile was originally designed and manufactured for the French Air Force and Navy.
Meteor is the next generation of BVR air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat. The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden.