On Monday, the first batch of five Rafale fighter aircraft took off from France for India, nearly four years after the two countries inked an inter-governmental agreement to supply 36 of the multi-role jets to the Indian Air Force (IAF) under a Rs 59,000-crore deal.
The aircraft flew out from the Merignac airbase in French port city of Bordeaux and will cover a distance of nearly 7,000 km with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates before arriving at Ambala Air Base on Wednesday, officials said. The aircraft are expected to significantly boost the Indian Air Force’s combat capabilities at a time India is locked in a tense border row with China in eastern Ladakh.
Rafale capable of carrying a range of weapons
The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets. Meteor is the next generation of BVR air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat. The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden, PTI reported.
Features & capabilities of HAMMER missiles
Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force is also zeroing in on procuring new generation medium-range modular air-to-ground weapon system HAMMER to integrate with the Rafale jets, using the emergency financial powers provided by the government to the armed forces for faster acquisition of key weapons and platforms.
HAMMER (Highly Agile Modular Munition