More strength for the IAF with at least 3 more Rafales flying next month
The lone Rafale squadron of the Indian Air Force will add more muscle with the arrival of at least three more fighter jets in January, a shot to the arm for the IAF which is dealing with a shortage of fighter jets, people familiar with the developments on Saturday on the condition of anonymity.
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This batch of Rafale fighter jets will be the third set of deliveries of the French-sourced jet to the air force, which has ordered a total of 36 fighter jets (equivalent to two squadrons) at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
“At least three Rafale planes will arrive in India next month. The dates are still being worked out. The planes will fly to Jamnagar from France without a stopover en route. The refueling support will be provided by Indian and French tankers, ”the people said.
The planes were ordered from France in September 2016 under a government-to-government agreement. The delivery of the three jets in January will bring the number of Rafales in the IAF inventory to 11.
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The second batch of the IAF’s three Rafale fighter jets had arrived at Jamnagar Air Base in Gujarat from France in early November before flying to its base of operations in Ambala. The first batch of five Rafale aircraft out of 36 ordered by the IAF arrived at Ambala airbase on July 29 after a stopover at Al Dhafra airbase near Abu Dhabi, although a formal ceremony of induction on September 10.
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The arrival of more fighters will further boost the IAF’s ability to rapidly deploy advanced aircraft to the Ladakh theater amid military tensions with China, as the Hindustan Times has already reported.
The IAF has been operating the fighter jets, equipped with advanced weapons and sensors, in the Ladakh theater, where the military is on high alert to deal with any provocation from China amid a lingering border dispute.
The IAF will add three to four aircraft every two months, with all 36 aircraft likely to join its combat fleet by the end of the year. The second Rafale squad will be based in Hasimara in West Bengal to strengthen IAF capabilities in the eastern sector.
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The Rafale fighter jets are the first imported jets to join the IAF in 23 years after the Russian Sukhoi-30 jets entered service in June 1997.
Twin-engine Rafale aircraft are capable of carrying out a variety of missions: land and sea attack, air defense and air superiority, reconnaissance and deterrence of nuclear attacks. The fighters can carry almost 10 tons of weapons. India-specific enhancements to the Rafales include cold engine start capability to operate from high altitude bases, radar warning receivers, flight data recorders with storage for 10 hours of data, tracking and search systems by infrared, inhibitors, and towed decoys to ward off incoming missiles. .