Five Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale aircraft have left Dassault Aviation Mérignac facility in France and will be received by Ambala Air Force Station (AFS) in India.

The aircraft were operated by IAF pilots and will enter service in N°17 Squadron Golden Arrows.

To conduct the ferry, Indian pilots and technicians underwent more than a year-long training by Dassault Aviation, with the participation of the French Air Force.

The Rafale aircraft will require air-to-air refuelling.

This first ferry proved the scheduled delivery of the aircraft in spite of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The delivery commences the induction of the Rafale aircraft in the IAF.

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Last month, India had expected to receive six fully loaded Rafale fighter aircraft with the long-range Meteor air-to-air missiles, amid the ongoing border disputes with China along the line of actual control (LAC) in Ladakh.

Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier said: “I am strongly impressed by the amazing efficiency and determination of the Indian Air Force and Indian Ministry of Defense, despite this unprecedented world health crisis, to master rapidly all aspects of the Rafale for comforting Indian sovereignty and contributing to the protection and security of Indian people.

“This new milestone illustrates once again the exemplary cooperation between Dassault Aviation and the Indian Air Force, started in 1953, and reasserts our total commitment to fulfill Indian Air Force requirements for the decades to come, and to be part of India’s ambitious vision for the future”.

The Government of India is set to receive 36 aircraft to fulfil its present and future requirements.