Three single-seat and two twin-seat omni-role Rafale jets, flown by seven IAF pilots have taken off from France on 27th July, 2020. Led by commanding officer Group Captain Harkirat Singh, the aircraft are set to reach India on 29th July, 2020. The jets will cover a distance of 7,000 km, which includes mid-air refuelling of the aircraft with an overnight pit stop in UAE. The game-changing fighter jets will be armed with deadly weapons, advanced avionics, radars, electronic warfare systems and self-protection suites. The Rafales are capable of firing air-to-ground cruise missiles and other weapons with a range of more than 300 km.
Indian government had placed an order to buy 36 Rafale jets in September 2016. Out of the 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers. The trainer aircraft are also equipped with all the features of the fighter jets. The IAF have received ten aircraft till date from the French defence major Dassault Aviation.
Five of these aircraft will reach India, while other five are being used to train the Indian pilots. They have been trained by the French defence major Dassault on both aircraft and weapons system. The remaining jets will be delivered by the end of 2021.
The Rafales will be equipped with MICA weapon system with a combat range of 780 km to 1,650 km with 13 ‘India-specific enhancements, including radar enhancements, Israeli helmet-mounted displays, low-band jammers, cold start capability from high altitude regions, 10-huor flight data recording, infrared search and tacking systems.
Amidst rising tensions at the LAC with China, the aircraft will add great strength to IAF and the overall defence capabilities.