The first batch of five Rafale fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) took to skies from France on Monday. They are expected to halt at UAE and reach Ambala, their planned home base on Wednesday. The aircraft will be inducted into the IAF on Wednesday. The induction of the multi-role fighter will add teeth to the IAF’s fighter squadrons.

“The new Rafales add strategic depth and strength to India’s air combat capabilities. They fly out of France today to join the growing Indian fleet of aircraft,” the Indian Embassy in France said on Monday.

“IAF aircrew and ground crew have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly advanced weapons systems and are fully operational now. Post arrival, efforts will focus on operationalisation of the aircraft at the earliest,” the IAF said last week.

Indian Embassy in France: Full statement

The IAF is expected to deploy Rafales in Ladakh in a bid to strengthen its combat capabilities in the sector. The modern fighter jet, equipped with lethal HAMMER missile and a range of other potent weapons, also has a number of India-specific modifications such as helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, infra-red search and tracking systems to name a few.

Deliberation regarding the deployment of Rafales in Ladakh sector was discussed during the recently-concluded Air Force commanders’ conference.