New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: In a significant boost to India’s airpower, the first four Rafale fighter aircraft will start arriving in the country by July-end this year from France. The aircrafts include three twin-seater trainer aircraft and one single-seater trainer aircraft, which are supposed to be delivered at Ambala airbase in Haryana.

Initially, the delivery was supposed to take place in May but COVID-19 driven postponements extended the delivery date to the end of July. 

As per the sources quoted by the news agency ANI, the first aircraft to be flown out of Ambala airbase will be piloted by the commanding officer of the 17 Golden Arrows' squadron along with a French pilot.

The fighter aircrafts will be flown in from France and thus would require to be refuelled in mid-air. The mode of delivery of fighter aircrafts through airlifting them with bigger military transport means was cancelled because then the pilots had to sit in the small-sized cockpit for the 10 hours of flight.

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"From Middle East to India, there would be one mid-air refuelling done by the Indian IL-78 tanker before they land in India," ANI reported while quoting its sources.

Earlier in the last week, a cargo plane landed in New Delhi with the first consignment of the Rafale linked equipment. More such consignments will reach India before the imminent delivery of the fighter aircrafts in July-end.

The trainer aircrafts will have the tail numbers of RB series in the honour of Air Force Chief RK Bhadauria, who led the negotiation of the fighter aircraft from the Indian side and managed to bag the deal for the country comprising 36 Rafale aircrafts in total. India had signed a deal worth ₹60,000 crore for 36 fighter aircrafts with France in September 2016, to meet the emergency requirements of Indian Air Force.

Rafale fighter aircrafts are equipped with long-range meteor air-to-air missiles and Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles intended to strike high-valued stationary assets such as airbases, radar installations, communications hubs and port facilities.

The air-to-air and air-to-ground strike capabilities cannot be matched by either China or Pakistan, the sources told ANI.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma