The first Squadron of the Rafale is based at Ambala Air Force Station, the second will be in West Bengal at Hasimara

Indian Air Force Base in Jamnagar gets ready to welcome three Dassault Aviation’s `Rafale’ fighters from France later this week. These fighter jets, which will fly non-stop from that country are expected to reach Indian skies on November 4, 2020. According to sources, “It will be around eight-hour-long flight all the way from Istres in France to Jamnagar. These fighters aircraft will be accompanied by three mid-air refuelling aircraft of the French Air Force.”

The second batch of pilots and ground staff are already undergoing intense training at the Saint-Dizier airbase in France. As has been reported earlier, India received the first batch of five French fighters in July, out of the 36 that has been contracted for at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. The aircraft are coming through the inter-governmental agreement with France and the deliveries are expected to be completed by 2023.

To oversee the progress being made in the project a team from the IAF has set up an office in Paris headed by a Group Captain. This office is not only overseeing the production timelines but is also monitoring the training of the crew, besides integration of India-specific enhancements and weapons systems.

On September 10, the first batch of fighter jets was formally inducted in the No.17 ‘Golden Arrows’ Squadron at the Ambala Air Force station. These Rafales had taken off from the Merignac airbase at Bordeaux in France to the Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE. And then they took off from UAE to India, and they were all the way from France to UAE, and then to India were accompanied by the French Air Force mid-air refuelers, as well as IAF mid-air refuelers. From the time of induction these aircraft have been carrying out sorties in eastern Ladakh, where the tensions are mounting between India and China.

There were five fighter aircraft including three single-seat and two twin-seater trainers and were flown to Indian led by Commanding Officer of No. 17 squadron Group Captain Harkirat Singh. The first Squadron of the Rafale is based at Ambala Air Force Station, the second will be in West Bengal at Hasimara.

During the annual presser ahead of the IAF Day, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria had told the media persons, “Every two or three months the IAF will be receiving around 3-4 Rafale from France. And by the end of 2021, the first Squadron will be fully ready.”

As per the IGA agreement between the governments, the 36 fighter jets in fly away condition with India Specific Enhancements (ISE) are expected to come by 2023.