NEW DELHI: A fourth batch of three Rafale fighter jets landed in India on Wednesday evening after flying non-stop from France, in a further boost to the strike capability of the Indian Air Force.
The jets were provided mid-air refuelling by air force tankers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the IAF said.
“The 4th batch of three IAF #Rafales landed on Indian soil after a direct ferry from #IstresAirBase France,” it tweeted.
The IAF also thanked the UAE air force for refuelling the Rafale jets, describing it as yet another milestone in the strong relationship between the two air forces.
The IAF did not disclose the base where the Rafale jets landed.
“Another batch of #Rafale take to the skies on non stop flight to India with mid air refueling by UAE. Indian Air power grows further,” the Indian Embassy in France tweeted earlier. With the arrival of the three jets, the size of the Rafale fleet has increased to 14.
The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, 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 another three jets joined the IAF on January 27.
The first Rafale squadron is based in Ambala air force station.
The Indian Air Force is set to raise the second squadron of the Rafale combat jets in mid-April and it will be based in Hasimara air base in West Bengal, according to military officials.
India is expected to get more Rafale jets from France in the next few months.
The Rafale jets, manufactured by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, 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.