Setting the stage for creation of the second Rafale squadron at Hasimara in West Bengal, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria will flag off six Rafale fighter jets from Merignac-Bordeaux airbase in south-western France on 21 April.
The arrival of these six Rafale jets will raise the number of these fourth-generation-plus fighter jets with the Indian Air Force (IAF) to 20.
With this, IAF will complete the formation of 117 Golden Arrows Squadron in Ambala and start the second squadron with two fighter jets in West Bengal near Siliguri corridor, reports Hindustan Times.
“The six fighters will fly to Ambala air base, from where the fighters will be repurposed for the formation of a second squadron at Hasimara, “ said a senior air force officer.
According to Dassault Aviation officials, another batch of four Rafale jets will fly to India in May. In addition to these 24 jets, the company has already handed over seven more Rafale fighters for training IAF officers in France. Thus by May-end, only five more fighters are to be handed over by Dassault to complete the full package of 36 aircraft.
The Rafale combat aircraft is manufactured by French company Dassault Aviation. India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.
The 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 aircraft have HAMMER missiles. It will also be armed with beyond visual range missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.