UAE Air Force to refuel 3 Rafales reaching India
On January 16, at a meeting of the consultative committee of the external affairs ministry, India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar highlighted India’s deepening relationship with Gulf countries. He emphasised on the intense efforts made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, due to which India’s relationship with Gulf countries had gone way beyond diaspora and energy as in the past.
Later this month, India’s three Rafale fighter jets will be flying into the Indian Air Force station at Ambala from France. The mid-air refuelling will be handled by United Arab Emirates Air Force. This will display the relationship of both the countries.
The three Indian fighter jets will be on their nonstop 8 hour flight from Bordeaux-Merignac base in France to join the Golden Arrows Squadron in Ambala. They will be refuelled twice by the UAE air force’s Airbus multi-role transport tanker.
On 29,July,2020, 5 Rafale fighters flew non-stop to India from France. These jets were refuelled 4 times by a French MRTT.
A person familiar with the matter said that the UAE air force’s gesture is the first-of-its-kind and reflects how the two countries are rapidly cementing their security ties. Next level would be trilateral military exercises which would include France, UAE and India.
On 6th January, a Diplomatic Advisor to the French President, Emmanuel Bonne visited India. A strategic dialogue was held between Bonne and National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval who is also one of the key architects of relations with UAE and Saudi Arabia. During this meet they discussed the trilateral military exercises.
The next batch of seven Rafale fighters coming to India in the latter half of April will also be refuelled by the UAE Air force.
Currently, 4 French Air Force’s Rafale fighters along with an Airbus MRTT are exercising with the Indian Air Force in the skies over Pokhran. Later the French fighters will participate in annual exercises with the Australian Air Force.
In 1999, UAE did not allow the Indian Ambassador to enter the airbase where Indian Airlines’ hijacked plane, IC-814, had refuelled before flying to Taliban-controlled Kandahar airport. But, since 2014, PM Modi has been leading the initiative and India was able to maintain a very close relationship with UAE.
India is planning to consider Airbus MRTT as one of the options to boost IAF’s power projection.