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Indian Air Force receives first three aircraft for second Rafale squadron

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has begun receiving aircraft for its second squadron of French-made Dassault Rafale multirole fighters.

Three Rafales arrived at Jamnagar Air Force Station (AFS) in western India on 6 May after a non-stop flight from Dassault’s facility in Bordeaux–Merignac using in-flight refuelling provided by the air forces of France and the United Arab Emirates.

The recently delivered aircraft, which are part of an order for 36 Rafales placed by the IAF in 2016 for EUR7.9 billion (USD9.5 billion), will operate from Hasimara AFS in northeastern India, close to the country’s disputed border with China. The fighters are set to be inducted into the IAF’s No 101 ‘Falcons’ Squadron, which will comprise 18 fighters after deliveries are completed by late 2022 or early 2023.

The move comes after the IAF received the final four of 18 Rafales for the first squadron on 21 April. These platforms, which are stationed at Ambala AFS in northern India, near the country’s disputed border with Pakistan, are being operated by the IAF’s No 17 ‘Golden Arrow’ Squadron.

The IAF has built hangars, bombproof shelters, and maintenance facilities for the Rafales at both airbases.

As Janes reported, the weapons that will arm the Rafales include the Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, the MICA short/medium-range air-to-air missile, and the Storm Shadow/SCALP ground-attack cruise missile.

The IAF is also in advanced negotiations with France’s Safran Electronics and Defence to procure about 300 units of Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range (HAMMER) precision-guided munition.

All of the IAF’s Rafales feature 13 ‘India Specific Enhancements’ (ISEs), or customised add-ons, which accounted for USD1.1 billion of the overall aircraft deal.

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