Rafale jets: A game-changer for Indian Air Force

The first batch of five Rafale jets is scheduled to land at the Ambala airbase on Wednesday. The jets took off from the Merignac airbase in French port city of Bordeaux on Monday and will arrive here after covering a distance of 7,000 km with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates. The fleet of five jets comprises three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft.
The new fighters — the first imported jets to be inducted into the IAF in 23 years after the Russian Sukhoi-30 jets entered service in June 1997 — will significantly enhance the offensive capabilities of IAF, which has for long-planned to update its fighter jet force.
Nearly four years ago, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to purchase 36 Rafale jets under a Rs 59,000-crore deal to boost the IAF's combat capabilities. The five Rafales are scheduled to be inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday, though a formal induction ceremony would be held later. The delivery of 36 fighters will be completed by the end of next year.
However, France handed over to India its first Rafale fighter during a ceremony attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart, Florence Parly, in Merignac on October 8 last year. Air and ground crews of the IAF have been in France for almost three years for the management of the Rafale programme.
According to experts, India’s new Rafale fighters will significantly enhance the offensive capabilities of the air force and prove to be a game-changer with their advanced weaponry, high-tech sensors, superior radar for detection and tracking of targets and ability to carry an impressive payload.
According to former Air Chief Marshal B. S Dhanoa, “with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) concentrated and on the offensive on a barren Tibetan Plateau, the Indian Air Force with Rafale fighter as its spearhead weapon will decide the outcome of the battle in case the red flag goes up.” The Rafale’s empty weight is 10 tonnes and its maximum take-off weight is around 25 tonnes. Even transport aircraft don’t have that kind of payload fraction. The Rafale can carry a lot of weapons.

 

- Prabhakar Purnadare

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