GUWAHATI: The five aircraft had started from Merignac air base in France on July 27 and reached UAE’s Al Dhafra air base on the same day after one mid-air refuelling by French tanker aircraft.
The aircraft took off today morning from Al Dhafra after a brief delay and first contacted with a Naval warship INS Kolkata which is deployed in the Western Arabian Sea on a mission.
The pilots include Group Captain Harkirat Singh who is the Commanding Officer of the 17 squadron, Wing Commander MK Singh, Group captain R Kataria, Wing Commander Abhishek Tripathi, Wing Commander Siddhu and Wing Commander Arun.
The pilots are from different fleets and have flown lesser generation aircraft in previous stints and have trained on Rafales only for 35-40 hours before undertaking a 7,000 km sortie with just one stoppage, the sources said.
(with inputs from ANI)