The 4th batch of three Indian Air Force Dassault Rafale landed on Indian soil after a direct ferry from Istres Air Base, France. Rafales were refueled in-flight by United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) Airbus A330 MRTT tankers. This marks yet another milestone in the strong relationship between the two Air Forces. A fourth batch of three Rafale fighter jets landed in India on Wednesday evening after flying non-stop from France, in a further boost to the strike capability of the Indian Air Force. With the arrival of the three jets, the size of the Rafale fleet has increased to 14.
In March 2019, Indian government officials asked for Rafales to replace ageing MiG-21s and to counter Pakistan’s newer F-16s. Ahead of the first Rafale’s formal hand over on 8 October 2019, The Indian Air Force Day 2019, the IAF accepted the aircraft at Dassault’s Bordeaux manufacturing facility in an event attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart, Florence Parly; it had tail number “RB-001” to mark IAF chief-designate Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria’s role in the 2016 deal. Delivery of 36 Rafales started on 27 July 2020 with first 5 Rafales delivered to Indian Air Force from France.
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault. The Rafale is distinct from other European fighters of its era in that it is almost entirely built by one country, involving most of France’s major defence contractors, such as Dassault, Thales and Safran.
Many of the aircraft’s avionics and features, such as direct voice input, the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the optronique secteur frontal infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor, were domestically developed and produced for the Rafale programme. The aircraft is available in three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version, and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries, and was selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, the Qatar Air Force and the Hellenic Air Force. The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria.