The Indian air force (IAF) will induct its first five Dassault Rafale fighters at Ambala Air Force Station on 29 July, following the imminent arrival of the type.
The event will mark a major milestone in New Delhi’s torturous path to obtain an advanced Western fighter.
The nation’s defence ministry says the 29 July induction will be a low-key affair, with no media present. A final, more officious, induction will take place on 20 August, it adds.
New Delhi received its first four aircraft in France in October 2019, when defence minister Raksha Mantri visited Dassault’s Merignac production line near Bordeaux in southwest France.
“IAF aircrew and ground crew have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly advanced weapons systems and are fully operational now,” says the defence ministry. “Post arrival, efforts will focus on operationalisation of the aircraft at the earliest.”
Ambala is located north of New Delhi, within flying range of potential hotspots involving Pakistan and India.
The five jets are part of a 36-unit deal signed the government of Narendra Modi in 2016. The move came shortly after the cancellation of the long-running Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft contest for 126 aircraft.
New Delhi still has a requirement for 110 advanced fighters for its air force, as well as 57 naval fighters.