Rafale Flight

India gets new Rafale fighter jets as tensions continue with neighbour China

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Wednesday amid the ongoing tensions with China along the border. Indian Air Force got the fighter jets as a part of the 2016 deal with France to buy 36 war jets. The multi-role Rafale jets are acquired to upgrade and modernize the air force fleet of Indian Air Force.

Retd. Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora, who oversaw the inclusion of Jaguar aircraft fleet, said that arrival of Rafale fighter jets is of importance as “it will significantly enhance the air force’s capability.” He also added, “But it will take a while before these aircraft are fully operational. You have to set up a logistics chain, train technical and ground staff in India.”

He further elaborated that to make a full squadron ready and completely functional at least 2 years are required. 18 aircrafts are required at least to make the Rafale squadron operational. Remaining fighter jets are expected to be delivered by next year.

Jets which have been manufactured by French firm Dassault Aviation were dispatched from France on Monday. They landed in UAE for a midnight halt before being delivered to India on Wednesday. The length of journey ensued by jets is a showcase of its endurance and capability to fuel mid-air.

Rafale fighter jets are multi-role and can carry out long range missions effectively. This includes accurate and high precision sea and land attacks. Inclusion of these modern fighter jets will boost air force’s morale after it has been facing an aircraft shortage.

Experts say that in case of two-front war with China and Pakistan, India will require 42 squadrons. But due to dwindling condition of aging Russian aircrafts, Indian Air Force squadron strength has declined to 31.

The Rafale procurement deal was started in 2000 under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government. It was then continued by the successor Congress led administration. Tenders were issued in 2008 to buy 126 Rafale jets. In 2012 Dassault was finalized as supplier and Indian state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was the partner which was given tender to produce 108 jets in India. The deal was however stalled as the partners couldn’t agree on terms.

In 2014, PM Narendra Modi made the jets procurement a priority after his party BJP came into power. But instead of continuing older deal, Modi government ordered 36 jets as part of a new deal. HAL was surprisingly not a part of the deal. Indian government says the decision to buy 36 jets in “fly-away” condition was to resolve the air force’s depleting aircraft strength problem.

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