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High Five: Rafales takes off, arriving tomorrow | India News


NEW DELHI: So finally it’s jet, set, go! The first five Rafales took off the sky over France with sonic booms on Monday to begin their 7,000km flight to India, which will include air refueling and an overnight pit stop in the UAE.
The three omnidirectional single-seat and two two-seat jets, piloted by seven IAF pilots led by the group’s commander-in-chief, Capt.Harkirat Singh, will land in Ambala to launch the 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron on Wednesday . “After the Indian ambassador, Jawed Ashraf, marked all five Raphaels from Merignac Air Base in Bordeaux, they landed at Al Dhafra Air Base in UAE on Monday night after flying for more than seven hours” said an IAF officer.
The imminent arrival of the five Rafales, of the 36 recruited from France in the Rs 59 billion settlement signed in September 2016, comes two decades after the IAF first demanded such fighters, and an intense fight by BJP Dogs of Congress on corruption allegations in the last couple of years.
The fighters, dubbed the “game changers” by the IAF, will of course land here amid the ongoing military confrontation with China. But major IAF sources downplayed “excess,” stressing that new fighters take time to settle down and properly integrate into the entire war machine.
“You can’t deploy new weapon systems, especially complex ones like fighters, just like that. First, fighters must fly extensively under Indian conditions to develop tactics and other operating procedures, “said a source.
The new weapon, in effect, takes time to assemble. Furthermore, the five Rafales do not make up half of a squad as of now. The IAF has already deployed enough Sukhoi-30MKI, MiG-29, and Mirage-2000 in advanced areas throughout LAC to handle any contingency.
“But yes, the effort will be to make the Rafales work as quickly as possible due to the border situation. It will probably take at least two months, “he added.

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