New Delhi: A third batch of three more Rafale fighter jets on Wednesday took off from France for a non-stop flight to India, in a further boost to the strike capability of the Indian Air Force.
The Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) of the United Arab Emirates will provide mid-air refuelling to the three Rafale jets, according to the Indian Embassy in France.
"Three more #Rafale jets take off from France for a non stop flight to India with mid air refueling by UAE MRTT; Adding more strength to India's air power. Wishing our amazing pilots smooth flight&safe landing with superb fighter jets," it tweeted.
The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, 2020, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of the aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
The second batch of three Rafale jets arrived in India on November 3.
The Rafale jets, manufactured by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.
The new fleet of Rafale jets has been carrying out sorties in eastern Ladakh.
The Rafale jets are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapons system will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.
The IAF is also procuring a new generation medium-range modular air-to-ground weapon system Hammer to integrate with the Rafale jets.
Hammer (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) is a precision-guided missile developed by French defence major Safran. The missile was originally designed and manufactured for the French Air Force and Navy.
Meteor is the next generation of BVR air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat. The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden.
The first squadron of the Rafale jets is stationed at Ambala air base while the second one will be based at Hasimara base in West Bengal.