3 Rafale jets land for Aero India 2019 trials

Three Rafale aircraft touched down at the Yelahanka Air Force Station on Wednesday. Pix: Tarmak

The intense political heat generated by the Rafale fighter jet took a dramatic turn in Bengaluru with the touchdown of three aircraft at the Yelahanka Air Force Station here on Wednesday. The Rafales will catch everyone’s attention at the biennial five-day airshow, Aero India beginning next week. 

The French-made Rafales were part of the previous airshows, too. But they were lost in the crowd of aircraft competing for the much-hyped 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal. 

On Thursday, as the dress rehearsals begin for Aero India 2019, the Rafales will take to the skies yet again. However, only two aircraft will be on flight display while the third will be on the tarmac for a static display. 

But the three advanced fourth-generation jets are not made for India by Dassault Aviation. Top Indian Air Force (IAF) officials had said in October last year that the Rafales customised for India would not be ready before the airshow. 

By September, the French firm is scheduled to deliver four jets, eventually replacing the ageing MiG-21 fighters.

Yakovlevs to return

The UK-based aerobatic display team, Yakovlevs, will return to Aero India to enthral the crowds. This will be the only foreign aerobatic team taking to the skies with the Surya Kirans and the Sarang helicopter formation. 

Team Yakovlev took to social media to announce their participation, their third appearance in Aero India shows. The Team will fly in a six-aircraft formation, enthralling crowds with their trademark aerobatic displays. 

A specialist airborne display team, the Yakovlevs fly the Cold War Russian warbird aircraft, the YAK-50, a single seat aircraft; and the
Super Yak-52, a two-seater flying machine. 

The Indian Surya Kiran aerobatic team is expected to fly the full nine-aircraft formation with the Advanced Jet Trainer, Hawks. Only six Hawks had turned up for Aero India 2017. The Hawks had replaced the ageing Kiran Mk-II aircraft. 

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