The first batch of five Rafale jets took off from France today and will be arriving in India on Wednesday, when the much-awaited fighter jets will officially be inducted and join the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet at the Ambala air base in Haryana.

The Rafale aircraft will cover a distance of nearly 7,000 kms from France to India with air-to-air refueling and a single stop en route in UAE. The Indian Air Force pilots and supporting personnel have been provided full training on aircraft and weapon systems by Dassault.

The Indian embassy in France said the event marked a new milestone in strong and growing India-France defence cooperation. The embassy also released a short video titled “Beauty and the Beast”, showcasing Rafale jets ready for takeoff.

Indian ambassador Jawed Ashraf was there to see off the Rafale aircraft. He also met the Indian pilots and congratulated them on becoming the first ones to fly the worlds most advanced and potent fighter aircraft and wished them success.

India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016 as an emergency purchase to arrest the worrying slide in the IAF’s combat capabilities.

Acting on a special request by the IAF, France has accelerated the deliveries of Rafale fighters to India. Five jets are coming instead of four that were originally planned to be delivered in the first batch.

France handed over to India its first Rafale fighter during a ceremony attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart, Florence Parly, in Merignac on October 8 last year.

As per reports, the delivery of all 36 aircraft will be completed by the end of 2021.

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