The Indian Air Force (IAF) will have a complete squadron of the Rafale fighter jets with the French manufacturer Dassault Aviation completing delivery of 16 more of these aircraft by April next year.
The five Rafale jets earlier supplied have already been pressed into service with its Ambala-based No 17 Squadron (Golden Arrows). The arrival of 16 more fighter jets will help Golden arrows own a complete squadron of Rafales.
As per the delivery schedule, the first three of these 16, will land in India on 5 November.
These three fighters will fly to India directly from Dassault Aviation assembly plant in Bordeaux-Merignac facility in southwest France, say reports, adding that there will be no stops as the fighters will be refueled mid-air.
Three more Rafale fighters will be delivered to India in January 2021, three in March and seven in April, news reports say.
The Rafales already in service have been flying in Ladakh. The fighter type has been seen flying in the region as part of IAF’s ‘familiarisation’ sorties.
The arrival of these fighters will boost the IAF’s ability to tackle threats from China amid the ongoing standoff along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
With the delivery of 16 more fighters by April, the Golden Arrows squadron will get all of its 18 fighters. At least three fighters will go to the Rafale squadron for the eastern front. These will be based at the Hasimara Airbase in Bengal.