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Dipti Ranjan Das

New Delhi: The first batch of five Rafale jets flew out of France today and will arrive in India on Wednesday, July 29, when the fighter jets will officially be inducted and join the Indian Air Force fleet in Haryana's Ambala. The fighter jets, built by French aviation firm Dassault, took off from the Merignac airbase in southern France's Bordeaux today.

India took a significant step in strengthening airpower and defence preparedness and this also marked a new milestone in the strong and growing India-France defence cooperation.

 

The Rafale aircraft will cover a distance of nearly 7000 km from France to India with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop en route in UAE. They are scheduled to reach India on July 29, 2020.

In accordance with the contract, Indian Air Force pilots and supporting personnel have been provided full training on aircraft and weapon systems by Dassault. Further batches of Indian Air Force personnel will continue the training over the next nine months.

India's Ambassador to France Jawed Ashraf was there to see off the Rafale aircraft. He said that the long-awaited and much needed two squadrons of Rafale would add great strength to IAF and our defence capabilities. He met the Indian Air Force pilots and wished them a safe flight to India. He congratulated them on becoming the first Indian pilots to fly one of the world's most advanced and potent fighter aircraft and wished theta success in meeting the nation's expectation of playing an important role in India's defence. He also thanked French Air force for support and Dassault for delivering the aircraft on schedule despite the ongoing pandemic crisis. Eric Trappier, Chairman Dassault Aviation and Air Commodore filial Ahmad Rather, the Air Attache to France, were also present on the occasion apart from other officials.

 

The first Rafale fighter was handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in October 2019 in a ceremony attended by the French Minister for Armed Forces Madame Florence Parly and the Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Delivery of ten aircraft has been completed on schedule. Five will stay back in France for training Mission. The delivery of all thirty-six aircraft will be completed on schedule by the end of 2021.

In a gesture of friendship, Government of France will send an aircraft with medical equipment and experts on July 26 to support India's efforts against the COVID- 19 Pandemic.

(With Agency Inputs)

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