According to sources close to the developments, the second batch of the Indian Air Force’s three Rafale fighter jets will land at the Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat directly from France on Wednesday. IAF is preparing to form its first Rafale squadron at Ambala.
The IAF had ordered 36 Rafale jets from France, the first batch of five jets had reached the Ambala airbase on July 29 after a stopover at the Al Dhafra air base near Abu Dhabi. However, the formal induction ceremony took place later on September 10.
“The three jets will not have a stopover on their way. They will be refueled by French and Indian tankers during the journey. The jets are expected to reach Ambala after a one-day break at Jamnagar,” the officials said.
Officers from the Indian Air Force were in France last month to review the progress of the delivery of the Rafale jets that are to arrive today. The induction of the Rafale fighter jets would bolster India’s arsenal. This would have an impact on the ongoing tussle with China at the Ladakh borders.
The arrival of more fighters will further boost the IAF’s capability to rapidly deploy the advanced jets amid tensions not only with neighbouring China but also Pakistan.
The IAF should be receiving three to four Rafale jets every two months, and all the 36 planes are likely to join the air force’s combat fleet by the year-end.
The Rafale fighters will significantly enhance the offensive capabilities of the IAF. They are the first imported jets to be inducted into the IAF in 23 years since the Russian Sukhoi-30 jets, which were inducted in June 1997.
The IAF is flying the Rafale fighter jets in the Ladakh theatre as the military is on high alert along the borders to deal with any provocation by China, especially when talks have failed to reduce friction in the sensitive theatre.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria last month said the integration of Rafale fighter jets brought in a platform armed with advanced weapons, sensors, and technologies that gave the IAF an operational and technological edge.
The twin-engine jet can carry out a variety of missions including ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance, and nuclear strike deterrence. It can carry almost 10 tonnes of weapons.