Tracking Rafale: From France to Ambala air base - Meet the braveheart pilots who will bring the 'beasts' home

Bravehearts who flew Rafales to India

With a service ceiling of 50,000 feet, the combat aircraft can reach maximum speeds of 750 knots.

It can carry out both air-to-ground strikes, as well as air-to-air attacks and interceptions during the same sortie.

The jet is capable of performing several actions at the same time, such as firing air-to-air missiles during a very low altitude penetration phase, giving it outstanding survivability. (Photo Courtesy: IAF)

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Dedicated tanker support from French Air Force

The IAF said air-to-air refuelling has been planned during the first leg of the ferry which will be undertaken by dedicated tanker support from French Air Force. The aircraft is likely to reach Air Force Station Ambala on July 29. (Photo Courtesy: IAF)

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The Golden Arrows

"The Golden Arrows", is being raised at Ambala for the Rafale aircraft. (Photo Courtesy: IAF)

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Flown by the best pilots in the world

The IAF said the "superb flying machines are being flown by the best pilots in the world". (Photo Courtesy: IAF)

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Beyond Visual Range interception

It has been cleared to operate weapons like the MICA air-to-air 'Beyond Visual Range' (BVR) interception, combat and self-defence missiles, the METEOR very long-range air-to-air missile, the HAMMER -- Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range -- modular, rocket-boosted air-to-ground precision-guided weapon series, laser-guided bombs with different warheads, and "specifics armaments" selected by some clients.

The Rafale is also fitted with 14 hardpoints, out of which five are capable of drop tanks and heavy ordnance.

The jet's total external load capacity is more than nine tonnes.

"Hence, Rafale can lift the equivalent of its own empty weight in payloads," according to Dassault. As per the manufacturers, the pilot interface is very easy to use and relies on a highly integrated suite of equipment which has capabilities for short-term, medium and long-term actions.

The design of the cockpit gives a wide field of view at the front, on both sides, and at the rear.

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Rafale's land safely at Al Dhafra airbase to refuel

"The Golden Arrows" squadron is being raised at Ambala for the Rafale aircraft. 

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Rafale to arrive at Air Force Station, Ambala

"The aircraft are likely to arrive at Air Force Station, Ambala, on July 29 subject to weather condition," the IAF said. 

The Indian ambassador to France thanked the French government and Dassault aviation at the Merignac facility while conveying India’s appreciation for timely delivery of the Rafale fighter jets. 

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Accompanied by two A330 Phenix MRTT refuelling planes

The supersonic jets are being  accompanied by two A330 Phenix MRTT refuelling planes from the French Air Force, one of which is carrying 70 ventilators, 100,000 test kits and a team of 10 health experts to support India in its fight against COVID-19, according to the French defence ministry.

Delivery of the Rafale jets -- 36 of which were ordered by India in September 2016 -- officially began in October but the planes stayed in France for training of the pilots and mechanics.

Delivery should be complete by 2022.

(Photograph:AFP)

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