INDIA. New Delhi. Following the agreement signed with France in 2016, India is set to receive the first batch of Rafale fighter jets on 29 July. The much-awaited jets will cover a distance of around 7000 km between France and India. Before landing in India, they will undergo refueling mid-air by a French air force tanker. The jets will also make a stop in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). After reaching India, the aircraft will reside at Ambala Air Force base in Haryana. Upon their arrival, Ambala will become the first base with Rafale fighter jets in the country.
Their arrival comes during the Indo-China border stand-off. The fully loaded fighter jets are arriving amid the ongoing border disputes with China over the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley. The Rafale jets will exponentially boost the combat capacity of the Indian Air Force. The aircraft have a strike range of 150 kilometers. This has the potential to give the air force an edge in any potential conflicts with the Chinese army.
Terms of the contract with France. India entered an agreement with France in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter planes. The price tag for the military hardware was around 7.87 billion euro, which has drawn criticism from some Indian politicians.
The word Rafale means ‘Gust of Wind’, and is expected to live up to its name. India is hopeful that the Rafale jets will significantly boost its air dominance and help the nation maintain peace in the region.