Rafale fighter jets on their way to India: IAF pilots complete the first leg

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Updated: Jul 27, 2020 9:00 PM

These aircraft would have covered almost 7000 km before entering the Indian airspace heading to Ambala Air Force Station.

Five Rafale fighter jets which flew in from Merignac airbase in Bordeaux, France on Monday (July 27, 2020) have landed safely at an airbase located near Abu Dhabi.

First leg over! The pilots and the machines took a break at the Al Dhafra airbase near Abu Dhabi, UAE. The pilots ferrying the five french `Rafale’ fighters flew sorties in excess of almost seven hours and were accompanied by two mid-air refuellers Airbus 330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.

The IAF has confirmed that the five fighter jets which flew in from Merignac airbase in Bordeaux, France on Monday (July 27, 2020) have landed safely at an airbase located near Abu Dhabi. The second leg will start on July 29, when the fighters will take off from Al Dhafra airbase, heading towards the Indian skies and will be accompanied by the mid-air refuellers.

These aircraft would have covered almost 7000 km before entering the Indian airspace heading to Ambala Air Force Station. On arrival in India, they will be inducted in the Squadron 17, `Golden Arrows’ – the home for one squadron of the French fighters.

HAMMER air-to-ground missile

In view of the ongoing tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), IAF is going for emergency procurement of the HAMMER air-to-ground missile. This missile has a range of up to 60 km. These can be fitted on the French Rafale which has been configured to carry these and fire.

Almost eight years ago the IAF had rejected these missiles and had opted for the Israeli Spice 2000 which was used in the Balakot Strikes.

More about HAMMER

It stands for Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range and comes with a guidance kit and a range extension kit. These are fitted on standard bombs of different types.

Each missile costs around Rs 70 lakh and has been ordered under the special financial powers given to the three services under which they can make emergency procurement up to Rs 300 crore under the capital budget.

“This power has been exercised by the IAF in view of the tensions with China and the Rafale could be operationalised within a week to deal with any situation along the LAC,” confirmed a source.

Can HAMMER be compared with Spice 2000 of Israel?

The Spice 2000 is already integrated into the Mirage-2000 inventory of the IAF. And was also expected to be onboard the Rafale.

Since the plan is to operationalise the Rafale faster, the fighter jet has the capability of firing the HAMMER, which is very agile and can be used in a difficult mountainous terrain like Ladakh.

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