The three Rafales were refueled in mid-air by Airbus MRTT tankers of the UAE Air Force, in yet another indication of close military ties with the Gulf country, during their over 7,000-km flight to India.
Another five Rafales will land in India towards end-April. The IAF will get all the 36 twin-engine Rafales, contracted under the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked with France in September 2016, by next year.
Rafales were refuelled in-flight by UAE Air Force tankers. This marks yet another milestone in the strong relations… https://t.co/yL0vX0Txz3
— The Times Of India (@timesofindia) 1617213392000
The first Rafale squadron, 17 `Golden Arrows’ Squadron, is already operational at the Ambala airbase. The second, 101 `Falcons’ Squadron, will now come up at the Hasimara airbase in West Bengal.
The 4.5-generation fighters have a combat range of 780-km to 1,650-km, without mid-air refueling, depending on the nature of their mission. The IAF fighters are armed with long stand-off weapons like the over 300-km range `Scalp’ air-to-ground cruise missiles.
The fighters are also being equipped with the top-notch Meteor air-to-air missiles, which with a strike range of 120 to 150-km can outgun any missile that can currently be unleashed by Pakistani or Chinese jets.
IAF has also ordered the “Hammer” air-to-ground precision-guided munitions for the Rafales, in a deal that came last year amidst the ongoing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh.
With a strike range of 20 to 70-km, the Hammer munitions are designed to destroy bunkers, hardened shelters and other targets in all terrains, including the mountainous one in Ladakh.