First Four Rafale fighter jets to arrive in India by July-end

The first aircraft to be flown in is set to be piloted by the Commanding Officer of the 17 Golden Arrows’ squadron along with a French pilot.

May 15, 2020 15:51 IST
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The first four Rafale fighter jets will arrive in India from France by the end of July 2020. The combat aircraft were earlier supposed to be delivered by May end but the delivery was postponed by two months in the wake of coronavirus outbreak. 

The first four Rafale aircraft will include three twin-seater trainer aircraft and one single-seater fighter aircraft. They will start arriving at the Ambala airbase by July end. 

The aircraft will have the tail numbers of the RB series to honour Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria who played a significant role in finalising India’s largest-ever defence deal for 36 Rafale combat aircraft. 


The arrival of the aircraft and their integration into the Indian Air Force will provide a major boost to India’s firepower in the air. 

Key Highlights 

The first aircraft to be flown in is set to be piloted by the Commanding Officer of the 17 Golden Arrows’ squadron along with a French pilot.

The aircraft will be refuelled once by a French Air Force tanker aircraft in the air before they make a stopover in the Middle East on their way from France to India. 

During their journey from the Middle East to India, one mid-air refuelling of the jets will be done by the Indian IL-78 tanker before they land in India. 

According to a source, the Rafale could have come directly from France to India. However, the 10-hour flight might get stressful for the pilots sitting inside a small cockpit. 

Rafale Aircraft: Important Details

Rafale Deal

India had signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with France in September 2016 to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition for €7.8 billion. As per the deal, India is expected to have all 36 jets within six years.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had on India’s behalf received the first Rafale aircarft on October 8, 2019 during a handing over ceremony at Mérignac in Bordeaux, France. The Defence Minister also undertook a sortie in the aircraft, which was piloted by French Captain Phil.

Though the Defence Minister had received the first of the 36 Rafale jets on October 8, the first batch comprising four Rafale jets was scheduled to arrive in India only by May 2020.

What is Rafale? 

Rafale is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, which has been designed and built by the French company Dassault Aviation. The aircraft, introduced in 2001 is known to be one of the most potent combat jets globally.

The fighter jet is equipped with a wide range of weapons. It can perform air supremacy, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.


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