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First four Rafale jets likely to arrive in India by last week of July

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The first Rafale fighter aircraft was officially handed over to India by France on October 8, 2019. Photo: Indian MoD/Twitter

NEW DELHI (PTI): The first four of 36 Rafale jets are expected to land in India by last week of July as the coronavirus pandemic delayed their scheduled delivery by around 11 weeks, official sources have said.

The first batch of the Rafale jets was scheduled to arrive in India by the first week of May.

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.

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.

Besides the missile systems, the Rafale fighters will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others.

The IAF has already completed preparations, including readying required infrastructure and training of pilots, to welcome the fighter aircraft.

The first squadron of the aircraft will be stationed at Ambala air force station, considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF. The Indo-Pak border is around 220 km from there.

The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal.

The IAF spent around Rs 400 crore to develop required infrastructure like shelters, hangers and maintenance facilities at the two bases.

Out of 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers. The trainer jets will be twin-seater and they will have almost all the features of the fighter jets.

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