France has delivered all 36 Rafale jets to India

France has announced that the order of 36 Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been completed. Despite the global shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, France-based Dassault Aviation has pre-delivered all fighter jets. 

While technically all of them have been delivered to India, only 35 of the 36 have arrived in India and the last one is still in France as all 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE) are being tested.

The Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 multi-role fighter jets in flying condition was signed in 2016, following an announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015, during his visit to that country.

The Rafale is the 4.5 gen fighter jet, making it among the deadliest in the world and was procured after lengthy scrutiny by Indian Air Force, outperforming SAAB Gripen, MiG 35, Typhoon, and F-16 among others. 

The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, 2020, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of the aircraft for Rs 59,000 crore.

The first squadron of the Rafale jets is stationed at Ambala airbase due to its strategic location in North India and proximity to Pakistan, while the second one will be based at Hasimara base in West Bengal, due to its proximity to China. 

While the IAF took delivery of a batch of three Rafales from France in February this year, bringing the total to 35 combat aircraft arriving in India, the upgrade of the existing aircraft is underway here in India.

The Rafale is available in three variants and all three variants share a common airframe and a common mission system.

These will be upgraded with the 13 ISE configurations that have undergone testing and are qualified and also certified to be mounted on board the jets.

The Rafale jets are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons including European missile maker MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapons system will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets. 

The twin-engine omnirole fighter jet is known for air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship and nuclear deterrence fighter aircraft, equipped with a wide range of weapons.

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