On Wednesday, the fifth batch of Rafale fighter aircrafts arrived in India flying a distance of 8,000 km from Merignac Air Base in France.
The Indian Air force thanked the French and UAE air forces for their refuelling support to complete the journey.
"After a direct ferry from MerignacAirBase, France, the fifth batch of Rafales arrived in India on April 21. The fighters flew a distance of almost 8,000 km with air-to-air refuelling support by Armee_de_lair and UAE AF. IAF thanks both the Air Forces for their co-operation," tweeted the Indian Air Force.
The aircraft had started joining the IAF fleet in the July-August timeframe last year and were quickly operationalised by the Air Force. The aircraft had also been deployed for patrolling along the China front in eastern Ladakh and other fronts during the height of the China confrontation. The planes equipped with the Hammer missiles have enhanced their capability to carry out air-to-ground strikes like the one in Balakot.
The arrival of the new batch of the aircraft will pave the way for the IAF to raise a second squadron of the Rafale jets. The new squadron will be based in Hasimara air base in West Bengal.
The first Rafale squadron is based in Ambala air force station. A squadron comprises around 18 aircraft.
India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. So far, 14 Rafale jets are operating in the IAF and the number will go up to 18 after the arrival of the new batch. The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29 last.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)