First Batch of 5 Rafales on Way to India from France

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The first batch of five Rafale fighter aircraft on Monday took off from France for India, nearly four years after the two countries inked an inter-governmental agreement to supply 36 of the multi-role jets to the Indian Air Force under an Rs 59,000-crore deal.

The aircraft flew out from the Merignac airbase in the French port city of Bordeaux and will cover a distance of nearly 7,000 km with air-to-air refueling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates before arriving at Ambala airbase on Wednesday, officials said.

“You can call them (Rafale) both beauty and the beast,” said Indian Ambassador to France Jawed Ashraf after interacting with the IAF pilots at the airbase before they set off for India.

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In the evening, officials said all five Rafales landed safely in Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE after a sortie in excess for seven hours.