NEW DELHI: Three more French-origin Rafale fighters are slated to touch down in India, after mid-air refueling by tankers of France and UAE, on Wednesday night.
The three new jets will add to the 17 such omni-role fighters, which have a combat range of 780-km to 1,650-km without mid-air refueling, already delivered to India.
IAF will get all the 36 twin-engine Rafales, contracted under the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked with France in September 2016, by next year.The first Rafale squadron, 17 `Golden Arrows’ Squadron, is already operational at the Ambala airbase. The second, 101 `Falcons’ Squadron, in turn, will now come up at the Hasimara airbase in West Bengal, as was reported by TOI earlier.
The 4.5-generation Rafales are armed with long stand-off weapons like the over 300-km range `Scalp’ air-to-ground cruise missiles. The fighters are also being equipped with the top-notch Meteor air-to-air missiles, which with a strike range of 120 to 150-km can outgun any missile that can currently be unleashed by Pakistani or Chinese jets.
IAF has also ordered the “Hammer” air-to-ground precision-guided munitions for the Rafales, in a deal that came last year amidst the ongoing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh.
With a strike range of 20 to 70-km, the Hammer munitions are designed to destroy bunkers, hardened shelters and other targets in all terrains, including the mountainous one in Ladakh.