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India’s first Rafale fighters take off from France

IAF pilots with Rafale fighter
Photo: Dassault Aviation

The first five Rafale fighter aircraft built for the Indian Air Force have ferried to India from the Dassault Aviation Mérignac facility on July 27, 2020.

The Rafales, three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft, took off from Dassault Aviation Mérignac facility to ferry to Ambala Air Force Station for entering service in N°17 Squadron “Golden Arrows”.

The ferry is planned in two stages & is being undertaken by IAF pilots. Air to air refuelling planned during the first leg of the ferry will be undertaken by dedicated tanker support from French Air Force. The aircraft are likely to reach Ambala on July 29.

The delivery of the first five fighters is part of a 36 aircraft contract from 2016, and paves the way to fulfill the present and future needs and requirements of the Government of India.

Originally developed for both the French Air Force and the Navy, the Rafale is a multi-role fighter capable of performing mission ranging missions from air-defense/air-superiority, reconnaissance, close air support, to anti-ship attacks, and nuclear deterrence.

Photo: Dassault Aviation

“I am strongly impressed by the amazing efficiency and determination of the Indian Air Force and Indian Ministry of Defense, despite this unprecedented world health crisis, to master rapidly all aspects of the Rafale for comforting Indian sovereignty and contributing to the protection and security of Indian people, stated Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. “This new milestone illustrates once again the exemplary cooperation between Dassault Aviation and the Indian Air Force, started in 1953, and reasserts our total commitment to fulfill Indian Air Force requirements for the decades to come, and to be part of India’s ambitious vision for the future”.

Prior to this delivery, India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the purchase of an additional 33 fighter jets from Russia early July. The 33 aircraft would include 21 MIG-29s and 12 Su-30s, and upgrades to 59 Mig-29 aircraft currently in service with the Indian Air Force.