The first set of five Rafale fighter jets flew out of France on Monday and will reach India on Wednesday. The new jets will land in India four years after the Centre signed a deal with France for a total of 36 units, as part of a Rs 59,000-crore agreement.
The fighter jets took off from the Merignac airbase in Bordeaux in South France. The jets will be formally inducted into the Indian Air Force in Ambala, Haryana.
“Beauty and the Beast”- Rafale Fighter Aircraft,” the Indian Embassy in France tweeted along with videos of the jet. “Ready to take off!!”
India’s Ambassador to France Javed Ashraf visited Rafale manufacturer Dassault’s unit and also spoke to pilots before take-off. The Indian Embassy said that 12 air force pilots and engineering crew members are fully trained to fly the jets.
“Delivery of ten aircraft has been completed on schedule,” the Indian Embassy said. “Five will stay back in France for training Mission. The delivery of all thirty six aircraft will be completed on schedule by the end of 2021.”
The Rafale jets will cover approximately 7,000 km from France to India, with one stop at a French airbase in the United Arab Emirates.
Last year, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was handed over the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets at an elaborate ceremony at the Merignac air base in Bordeaux.
An inter-governmental agreement was signed between India and France in September 2016 to procure the 36 fighter jets worth Rs 59,000 crore. The deal became the centre of controversy ahead of the Lok Sabha elections as the Congress alleged wrongdoing and favouritism by the government.