New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: In what could be a significant boost to India’s air power amid the ongoing standoff with China, the first batch of the five Rafale fighter aircrafts took off from France on Monday and will reach India on July 29, said the Indian Embassy in France.

The five Rafale jets will be flown by the pilot of the Indian Air Force from France's Istres airbase on Monday and will land at the Ambala Air Force Station in India to join the Indian Air Force fleet on July 29. The aircraft will be refuelled by French Air Force tanker aircraft on their way to an airbase in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before leaving for India.

The Indian Air Force has said that its air and ground crews have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly-advanced weapons systems, and are fully operational now.

(Official Twitter account of news agency ANI)

"IAF aircrew and ground crew have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly advanced weapons systems and are fully operational now. Post arrival, efforts will focus on operationalisation of the aircraft at the earliest," the Indian Air Force had said last week.

The Rafale will significantly boost the strength of the Indian Air Forces, especially at a time when tensions between India and China have increased along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

(Official Twitter account of news agency ANI)

The five Rafale jets, which is a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), will be equipped with the HAMMER and Meteor missile. "The order for the HAMMER missiles is being processed and the French authorities have agreed to supply them to us at a short notice for our Rafale combat aircraft," news agency ANI quoted government sources as saying.   

India, France Rafale Deal:

Under the Congress government before 2014, India had proposed to buy 126 Rafale jets. However, the Narendra Modi government scrapped the deal and later announced that it will buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

The first batch of the 36 Rafale jets will arrive on July 29 while the last batch will be delivered by September 2021. Out of the 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter aircrafts while six will be trainee aircrafts.     

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma