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India gets five Rafale jets to boost IAF’s combat capability

Wednesday, 29 Jul 2020
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A fleet of five French-manufactured Rafale multi-role combat jets have touched down in India, giving the country’s air power a strategic edge.

The aircraft, having an undisputed track record and considered one of the most potent combat jets globally, landed at the Ambala Air Force base after covering a distance of 7,000 km from the Merignac airbase in French port city of Bordeaux.

The Rafales were escorted by two Sukhoi 30 MKIs after they entered the Indian air space. These multirole aircraft will revolutionise capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The Central government had inked Rs 59,000 crore deal on 23 September 2016 to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).

The fleet, comprising three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft, is being inducted into the IAF as part of its Ambala-based No 17 Squadron, also known as the ‘Golden Arrows’.

The government had revealed that 10 Rafale jets were delivered to India and that five of them are staying back in France for training missions. The delivery of all 36 aircraft will be completed on schedule by the end of 2021.

The Rafale jets, known for air-superiority and precision strikes, are India’s first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.

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

The IAF is also procuring new generation medium-range modular air-to-ground weapon system Hammer to integrate with the Rafale jets.

Though the jets are being inducted into IAF, there will be formal ceremony in mid-August 2020 to welcome them into the force.The first Rafale jet was handed over to IAF in October 2019 during a visit to France by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

While the first squadron of the Rafale jets will be stationed at Ambala airbase, the second one will based at Hasimara base in West Bengal.

The Ambala base is considered one of the most strategically located bases of  IAF.

IAF spent around Rs 400 crore to develop required infrastructure like shelters, hangars and maintenance facilities at the two bases.

Out of 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers. The trainer jets will be twin-seater and they will have almost all the features of the fighter jets.

 
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