First Rafales reach India

Five Indian Air Force (IAF) Dassault Rafales took off from the company’s Mérignac Airport facility on July 27 to ferry the fighters to Ambala Air Force Station (AFS) in northern India.

The Rafales will enter service with the IAF’s number 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’. These five are the first of an order for 36. Flown by IAF pilots, the five aircraft will cover nearly 3,779 nautical miles (7000 kilometres) with air-to-air refueling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates. They will reach Ambala AFS on July 29. An IAF team has been in France for almost three years in preparation for the introduction of the Rafales into the IAF. More IAF personnel will receive training over the next nine months.

Indian Rafale [Dassault Aviation]
One of India's new Dassault Rafale multi-role fighters departs Mérignac Airport on July 27. Dassault Aviation

“This new milestone illustrates once again the exemplary cooperation between Dassault Aviation and the Indian Air Force, started in 1953,” said Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO, Eric Trappier. “[And this] reasserts our total commitment to fulfil Indian Air Force requirements for the decades to come, and to be part of India’s ambitious vision for the future.”

The contract for 36 Rafales was signed on September 23, 2016. The first Rafale's delivery ceremony was October 2019. Delivery of 10 aircraft has been completed on schedule, but five are to stay in France for training. All 36 will be delivered by 2022. His Excellency Shri Jawed Ashraf, Ambassador of the Republic of India in France was present at the July 27 departure.

The first Dassault Aviation aircraft, Toofani, was supplied to India in 1953. Dassault went on to supply its Mystere IV and the Mirage 2000, and its legacy companies provide the aircraft carrier-based Breguet Alize and Breguet Jaguar, which was manufactured under license by Hindustan Aeronautics.