THREE Rafale combat aircraft landed in India on Wednesday night after flying non-stop from France, an Indian Air Force official said. The three fighter jets will add to the current fleet of eight Rafale aircraft. “The third batch of three Rafale aircraft landed at an Indian Air Force base a short while ago.

They flew over 7,000 km with inflight refueling. The aircraft got airborne earlier in the day from the Istres airbase in France,” the Indian Air Force official said.

The Rafale combat aircraft is manufactured by the French company Dassault Aviation. Earlier on Wednesday, the Indian Embassy in France had tweeted that three more Rafale jets have taken off from Istres for a non-stop flight to India with mid-air refueling.

“Adding more strength to India’s air power. Wishing our amazing pilots a smooth flight and safe landing with superb fighter jets,” the Indian Embassy said.

With three more aircraft, the IAF will now have 11 Rafale jets in service. Further, Indian Air Forcepilotsare beingtrained in batches atthe Saint-Dizier air base in France.

India received the first batch of five Rafale aircraft on July 29, 2020 which were inducted into the 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ Squadron on September 10 at the Ambala Air Base.

Second batch of three Rafale combat aircraft arrived in India on November 4, 2020 after flying non-stop from France. India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 Rafale jets at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.

Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture.It is an omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie.

The fighter jet has HAMMER missiles. It will also be armed with beyond visual range missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing its ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.

The IAF is also procuring a new generation medium-range modular air-to-ground weapon system Hammer to integrate with the Rafale jets.

Hammer (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range)is a precision-guided missile developed by French defence major Safran. The missile was originally designed and manufactured for the French Air Force and Navy.

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