The first five of the Indian Air Force’s new Dassault fighters recently landed in India after a two-day flight from France. The fighters, from Dassault’s Rafale line, were piloted by Indian pilots and will enter service with India’s “Golden Arrow” squadron. According to Dassault, the pilots underwent extensive training in France along with their ground support crews.
Paris to New Delhi
It’s not the first time that Dassault has supplied New Delhi with state-of-the-art equipment—the company has supplied the Indian Air Force for more than six decades. Dassault notes that “the first Dassault Aviation aircraft, Toofani was supplied to India in 1953, followed by the Mystere IV, the naval Alize, the Jaguar manufactured under license by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, an Indian aerospace firm), and the Mirage 2000. These aircraft have contributed to Indian sovereignty all along and the Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft continues to be the IAF’s ‘cutting edge’ till date.”
Dassault advertises the Rafale as an “omnirole” fighter, capable of a variety of missions that include interception, air-to-air combat, close air support, deep and maritime strike capabilities, reconnaissance—and most importantly—nuclear deterrence. The Rafale F3 is the primary nuclear aircraft in French service, and would presumably provide India with similar capabilities.