Indian Air Force on Tuesday thanked the French Air Force for providing support to India's first batch of Rafale jets on their way back home. In photos posted on Twitter, Indian Rafale jets are seen re-fuelling mid-air from a French Air Force tanker before their scheduled stopover in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
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
The first batch of five Rafale fighter aircraft took off from France for India on Monday, nearly four years after the two countries inked an inter-governmental agreement to supply 36 of the multi-role jets to the Indian Air Force under a Rs 59,000-crore deal.
The aircraft flew out from the Merignac airbase in French port city of Bordeaux and will cover a distance of nearly 7,000 km with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates before arriving at Ambala airbase on Wednesday, officials said.
"You can call them (Rafale) both beauty and the beast," said Indian Ambassador to France Jawed Ashraf after interacting with the IAF pilots at the airbase before they set off for India.
In the evening, officials said all five Rafales landed safely in Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE after a sortie in excess of seven hours.
The fleet, comprising three single seater and two twin seater aircraft, is scheduled to arrive at Ambala airbase on Wednesday when they will be officially inducted into the Indian Air Force as part of its No 17 Squadron, also known as the “Golden Arrows”, said an IAF official.
"Delivery of 10 aircraft has been completed on schedule. Five will stay back in France for training mission. The delivery of all 36 aircraft will be completed on schedule by the end of 2021," the Indian embassy in Paris said in a statement.
(With PTI inputs)