At a meeting of the consultative committee of the external affairs ministry on January 16, foreign minister S Jaishankar had underscored India’s deepening relationship with Gulf countries. He had told the Congress MPs that it was due to the intense efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India’s relationship with Gulf countries had gone way beyond diaspora and energy as in the past.
The state of the relationship will be on display later this month when the United Arab Emirates Air Force will handle the mid-air refuelling of India’s three Rafale fighter jets flying into the Indian Air Force station at Ambala from France, people familiar with the matter said.
The UAE air force’s Airbus multi-role transport tanker will twice refuel the three Indian fighter jets on their non-stop eight-hour flight from Bordeaux-Merignac base in France to join the Golden Arrows Squadron in Ambala.
When five Rafale fighters flew non-stop to India from France on July 29, 2020, the aircraft was refuelled four times by a French MRTT.
The UAE air force’s gesture is the first-of-its-kind and reflects how the two countries are rapidly cementing their security ties, a person familiar with the matter said.