Rafale RB 001 formally joined the Indian Air Force (IAF) on October 8, 2019, and the second combat aircraft from Dassault Aviation with tail number 002 is getting ready. Dassault released photos of Rafale RB 002 in flight on Wednesday, just a day after handing over the first of the 36 fighters to the IAF in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Bordeaux city’s Merignac.
A series of five photos released by Dassault Aviation shows the twin-seater Rafale RB 002 flying over the sea, forested area and open fields. IAF will get eight twin-seater Rafale trainers while the remaining 28 aircraft are single-seaters.
Rajnath Singh undertook a sortie, too, in Rafale RB 001 after performing shastra puja on the plane. The aircraft was commandeered by Dassualt Aviation’s head test pilot Philippe Duchateau while Singh was in the copilot’s seat.
The day on which the first Rafale joined the IAF was also the 87th Air Force and Vijayadashmi, a festival which celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
RB on the Rafale tail stands for the current Chief of Air Staff Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria who was a key figure in clinching the deal for the 4++ Generation fighter during his tenure as the IAF deputy chief.
The Rafales joining the IAF have been modified with several India-specifics intruments to make them more potent and lethal. IAF is also getting MBDA’s deadly Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air and Scalp subsonic cruise missiles along with the Rafales.
IAF will arm two squadrons with the Rafale combat aircraft. While 17 Squadron Golden Arrows with 18 Rafales will be based at Ambala in Haryana to tackle threats from Pakistan, with the remaining 18 jets will arm 101 Squadron Falcons and be stationed at West Bengal’s Hasimara Air Force Station to take care of any Chinese misadventure.
A team of IAF pilots, engineers and technicians are undergoing training on Rafale jets in France and the first aircraft will land in India in May 2020. IAF will receive 18 Rafales by February 2021 while the 36th aircraft will reach the country by April-May 2022.