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SOURCE: INDIA TODAY

In a major boost for the Indian Air Force (IAF), three more Rafale fighter jets arrived in India after flying non-stop from France on Wednesday. The aircraft were provided mid-air refuelling by the air force of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the IAF said.

“Three Rafale aircraft arrived in India a short while ago, after a direct ferry from Istres Air Base, France. IAF deeply appreciates the support by UAE Air Force for in-flight refuelling during the non-stop ferry,” the IAF said in a tweet. Three Rafale aircraft arrived in India a short while ago, after a direct ferry from #IstresAirBase, France.

IAF deeply appreciates the support by UAE Air Force for in-flight refuelling during the non-stop ferry. The new batch of the aircraft will be part of the IAF’s second squadron of the Rafale jets. The second squadron will start operations by July-end at Hashimara Air Force Base in West Bengal, with the Rafale aircraft that have already arrived in Ambala flying there from next week, government sources told India Today TV.

The first Rafale squadron is based in the Ambala air force station. It had already started patrolling the borders with China in eastern Ladakh and other areas.

The squadron in Hashimara would give a major boost to air preparedness against the Chinese Air Force as it will bring a number of Chinese airfields in close range of the Indian aircraft. In 2016, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 Rafale jets at a cost Rs 59,000 crore.

India is now going to place orders for 114 multirole fighter aircraft along with the indigenously developed stealth fighters Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft whose seven squadrons would join the Air Force in the next 15-20 years. The twin-engine Rafale jets are capable of carrying out a variety of missions such as ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance, and nuclear strike deterrence.