NEW DELHI: Three more French-origin Rafale fighters touched down at the Jamnagar airbase in India, after mid-air refueling by tankers of France and UAE, on Wednesday night. The three new jets will add to the 26 such 4.5-generation fighters, which have a combat range of 780-km to 1,650-km without mid-air refueling, already delivered to India. The Indian Air Force (IAF) will get all the 36 twin-engine Rafales, contracted under the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked with France in September 2016, in batches by early next year. The two Rafale squadrons, the 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ in Ambala and 101 ‘Falcons’ in Hasimara, are already operational and flying missions during the continuing 17-month-long military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh. The omni-role Rafales are armed with long stand-off weapons like the over 300-km range ‘Scalp’ air-to-ground cruise missiles. The fighters are also equipped with the top-notch Meteor air-to-air missiles, which with a strike range of 120 to 150-km can outgun any missile that can currently be unleashed by Pakistani or Chinese jets. IAF had also ordered the “Hammer” air-to-ground precision-guided munitions for the Rafales in a fresh deal last year. With a strike range of 20 to 70-km, the Hammer munitions are designed to destroy bunkers, hardened shelters and other targets in all terrains, including the mountainous one in Ladakh.
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