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Video: France Dispatches Rafale Fighters for India Amid Tense Situation Along Chinese Border

New Delhi (Sputnik): India purchased 36 Rafale fighter jets from France under a government-to-government deal in 2016 at a cost of $8.7 billion. The delivery of the jets was expedited by France at the behest of India after border tensions with China worsened in April of this year.

The new Rafale jets add strategic depth and strength to India’s air combat capabilities, says an Indian official after dispatching five Dassault Aviation fighters from Dassault Aviation Facility, Merignac, France on Monday. These five include three single seater and two twin seater aircraft. The jets are headed to the Ambala Air Base in Punjab, close to Ladakh and the Pakistan border.

Pilots and ground crew have received comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly advanced weapons systems, the Indian Air Force said last week in a rare declaration of operational status.

​After the arrival of the Rafale fighter jets “efforts will focus on operationalisation of the aircraft at the earliest”. Sputnik has already reported that Rafale weaponry arrived at the Ambala Air Base in the first week of July.

Sources indicated that the Indian Air Force has also decided to purchase an Armement Air-Sol Modulaire Hammer air-to-ground precision strike weapon system.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh talked to his French counterpart Florence Parly on 2 June after receiving reports of delay in the delivery of jets due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for the supply of 36 Rafale jet envisages delivery of aircraft in a flyaway condition along with associated equipment. The Indian government did not seek to license manufacturing or transfer of technology as it considered the “deal would not have been cost effective for an order of this size”.

Dassault aviation will provide five years of performance-based logistics (PBL) support with options for an additional seven-year extension. The terms finalised by the two sides also provide for 50-year product support by the manufacturer.

Dassault has made India-specific changes to the aircraft and mounted different types of missiles: beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air Meteor, short and medium-range air-to-air MICA, and precision-guided air-to-ground SCALP missiles.

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