Four Rafale fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force carried out a "strategic" mission over the Indian Ocean region for over six hours, in a significant demonstration of their long-range combat capabilities, people familiar with the operation said on Wednesday.
The jets took off from the Hasimara Air Force station in the eastern sector, carried out the mission involving various manoeuvres and simulated operations and returned to the base after meeting the desired results, they said.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out the mission at a time China has been ramping up its presence in the Indian Ocean region, which is largely considered as the backyard of the Indian Navy.
The people cited said the mission by the four Rafale jets demonstrated their operational capabilities and readiness in dealing with various challenging situations.
Without divulging the day of the operation, the people cited above said it was carried out very recently.
The IAF also tweeted about the mission. "Four IAF Rafales flew a long range mission for over six hours into the IOR. The aircraft 'fought' their way through a large force engagement en route to their Weapon Release Point. Pickle on time, weapon on target-the IAF way!" it said.
The IAF too did not divulge the day of the operation. The Rafale jets are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 year after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.
The Rafale jets are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons.