Three Rafales are preparing from Mérignac for their new home at AFS Ambala. (Photo: Indian Air Force)
The departure of the Rafales was attended by the Indian Ambassador to France, His Excellency Shri Jawed Ashraf, and Dassault CEO Eric Trappier. “I am deeply impressed by the incredible efficiency and determination of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Ministry of Defense, despite this unprecedented global health crisis, to quickly bring all aspects of the Rafale under control to comfort sovereignty India and contribute to the protection and security of India. people, ”Trappier commented.
The Dassault CEO went on to note that cooperation between Dassault and the Indian Air Force began in 1953, when the Hurricane jet fighter was delivered, known as the Toofani in Indian Air Force (IAF). Dassault then supplied Mystery IV and Mirage 2000 fighters.
The first batch of Rafales is destined for Ambala Air Base in Haryana State, where No. 17 “Golden Arrows” Squadron has been reformed to operate. A second squadron will be located at AFS Hasimara in West Bengal. Indian pilots have been training in France with Dassault and the Air Force for over a year, and have undertaken the flight by ferry. In service, the aircraft will be armed with a variety of weapons, including the MBDA Meteor air-to-air missile and the MBDA Scalp long-range precision attack missile. A few days before the plane left France, it was announced that the IAF had selected the Sagem AASM Hammer precision-guided bomb to arm the Rafales, and that they would be purchased quickly as part of a program. emergency supply.
Accompanying the Rafales for the ferry trip and providing in-flight refueling, two Airbus A330 MRTT Phénix refueling / transporters of the French Air Force. One of the planes was carrying 70 ventilators and 100,000 test kits to help India respond to the Covid-19 crisis, accompanied by 10 members of the French military medical organization to support Indian civil authorities.
Earlier in July, the French Air Force took delivery of its third Phoenix to Istres, with the plane arriving four months earlier than expected. The General Directorate of Armament (DGA), which oversees French military purchases, has accelerated the deliveries of the 12 A330s on order so that the last is delivered in 2023 instead of the initially planned date of 2025.
France also announced that three more A330s will be added to the fleet, bringing the total to 15, as part of the government’s Covid-19 aerospace industry support plan. These planes will replace the French Air Force’s Airbus A310 and A340 strategic transport aircraft and are expected to be converted to the MRTT standard after 2025.
The third Phoenix of the French Air Force is seen during a test flight. (Photo: Airbus via DGA)