Second batch of 3 Rafale jets likely to reach Ambala home base today

The second batch of the Indian Air Force’s three Rafale fighter jets, which reached the Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat from France on Wednesday, are likely to fly to their home base in Ambala on Thursday, officials familiar with developments said.

The jets landed in Jamnagar last night without a stopover on the way, with refuelling support from Indian and French tankers.

The first batch of five Rafale jets of the 36 ordered by the IAF reached the Ambala airbase on July 29 after a stopover at the Al Dhafra airbase near Abu Dhabi, although a formal induction ceremony took place later on September 10.

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The arrival of more fighters will further boost the IAF’s capability to rapidly deploy the advanced jets amid military tensions with China in the Ladakh theatre, the officials said.

The IAF is expecting three to four Rafale jets being delivered every two months, with all the 36 planes likely to join the air force’s combat fleet by the year-end.

The jets were ordered from France in September 2016 under a government-to-government deal worth Rs 59,000 crore.

The Rafale fighters are the first imported jets to join the IAF in 23 years after the Russian Sukhoi-30 jets entered service in June 1997.

The IAF is operating the Rafale fighter jets in the Ladakh theatre where the military is on high alert to deal with any provocation by China.

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.

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