New Delhi: The first batch of five Rafale jets on Monday took off from France for India, officials said. The first squadron of the Rafale jets will be stationed at Ambala air base.

The multi-role fighter aircraft are scheduled to arrive at Ambala air force station on Wednesday, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 Rafale jets for the Indian Air Force under a Rs 59,000-crore deal.


The fleet is expected to significantly boost the IAF's combat capabilities at a time when India is locked in a tense border row with China in eastern Ladakh.

Indian Ambassador to France Jawed Ashraf interacted with IAF pilots before they took off from France.


"Bon Voyage: Indian Ambassador to #France interacts with the Indian pilots of the Rafale. Congratulates and wishes them a safe flight to India with a single hop," the Indian Embassy in Paris tweeted.
The five Rafales are scheduled to be inducted into the IAF on Wednesday afternoon. However, an IAF spokesperson said a formal induction ceremony will be held in mid-August.

Official sources said the Rafale jets are likely to be deployed in the Ladakh sector as part of the IAF's efforts to enhance its operational capabilities along Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in view of the border row with the country.

The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.