India chose Dassault Rafale over Lockheed Martin’s F-16 used by Pakistan Air Force, Boeing’s F/A-18, Eurofighter Typhoon, Russia’s MiG-35 and Sweden’s Saab Gripen.
1st Rafale delivered to India in France. (Image: IAF/ Twitter)
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh received the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets and flew a sortie in the MMRCA fighter jet from a French airbase in Paris to gain first-hand experience of the aircraft. Rafale is handed over to Singh on the foundation day of the Indian Air Force. The first Rafale bears a tail number ‘RB 01′, where ‘RB’ stands for Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria, who played an important role in negotiations for procuring 36 Rafale jets in the flyaway condition.
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 and missiles and the first squadron of the aircraft will be deployed 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.