India had last flown the first batch of five Rafales through UAE, landing them at the gulf nation’s Al Dhafra airbase. Incidentally, the Al Dhafra airbase falls near the Strait of Hormuz where Iran’s Revolutionary Guard staged a mock attack on a fake aircraft carrier launching three missiles, while India’s Rafale’s were present there.
The Al Dhafra airbase was put on high alert after intelligence reports showed a possible missile headed towards the airbase.
“CNN has learned US bases at Al Udeid and Al Dhafra went on alert this am when intel indicators showed an Iranian missile possibly headed that way. Personnel told to take cover for several minutes. No missile struck, US officials say they took prudent precautionary measures,” CNN’s Pentagon Barbara Starr had tweeted.
Apparently, to prevent a similar situation from repeating, India has decided to directly fly the new batch of the three Rafales directly to the country accompanied by the French air force’s mid-air refueling aircraft.
India has already inducted the first batch of the French Rafales to its No. 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron of the Indian Air Force on September 10. While arriving in India in July this year, they had made a stopover at the Al Dhafra airbase in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
According to the Indian government sources, the delivery of all 36 aircraft would be completed as per schedule by 2021-end. The second squadron would reportedly be stationed at West Bengal’s Hasimara.
The Indian air force is expecting to receive three to four Rafales every two or three months till all 36 jets are delivered, making the first squadron fully ready by 2021-end and the second by 2023.
Indian air force chief IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria had said, “In the next three years, we will see the Rafale and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) MK1 squadrons operating with full strength, along with additional Su-30MKI and MiG 29 aircraft that are being ordered in addition to the current fleets.”
In 2016, India and France signed a purchase agreement for the supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of €7.87 billion, or about Rs 60,000 crore. Under the agreement, the 36 Rafale procurement offset proposal supported the government’s ‘Make In India’ initiative.( The Eur Asia Times )
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