The first batch of Rafale jets is set to fly out of France on Monday, July 27, to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet in Ambala in Haryana on Wednesday (July 29).
On their way to India, the aircraft will be refuelled mid-air and on land at French airbase by French Air Force tanker aircraft in the United Arab Emirates.
The first batch of Rafale jets, including five aircraft, will be the first tranche of the 36 aircraft bought by India from France in an inter-governmental agreement in September 2016 at a whopping amount of around Rs 58,000 crore.
Out of 36 Rafale aircraft, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers. The trainer jets are twin-seater and they have almost all the features of the fighter aircraft.
The Indian Embassy in France also took to Twitter saying that the new Rafales will add strategic depth and strength to India's air combat capabilities. "The new Rafales add strategic depth and strength to India's air combat capabilities. They fly out of France today to join the growing Indian fleet of aircrafts," read the Indian Embassy's tweet.
The Indian embassy in France tweeted: "Bon Voyage: Indian Ambassador to #France interacts with the Indian pilots of the Rafale. Congratulates and wishes them a safe flight to India with a single hop."
5 Rafales to include trainer RB-003
The first batch of Rafales will include the trainer RB-003 (RB for Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria- the Air Chief Marshal).
In a statement, the Air Force said that the first batch of five IAF Rafales is likely to arrive in India by the end of July. "The aircraft will be inducted at Air Force Station Ambala on July 29 subject to weather," the IAF's statement read.
Meanwhile, reports said that the Rafale jets will likely be deployed in the Ladakh region as part of the Air Force's efforts to enhance its operational capabilities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in the aftermath of the border conflict with India.