Delivery of First Batch of Five Fighter Jets
The first five Rafales bought from France in a multi-billion-dollar deal landed in the country on Wednesday in Ambala (Haryana). A deal of 36 jets was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2016. The remaining rafales are expected to be bought here by next year.
The Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh took formal delivery of the first jet in France last October and the jets have since been used for training there. Delivery of 10 aircraft has been completed so far, of which five will stay back in France for training. Delivery of all 36 aircraft will be completed as per schedule by end 2021.
Upon India’s request, France has speeded up the deliveries. The Defence Minister gave a statement pointing directly towards neighbouring China over territorial tensions. “If it is anyone who should be worried about or critical about this new capability of the Indian Air Force, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity,” he said.
These missiles include the beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile, Meteor, which has the capability to hit targets over 120 km away, and the long range air-to-ground stand-off cruise missile, SCALP, which can strike targets 600 km away.The integration of Meteor into the Rafale weapons system means an Indian Rafale would be able to shoot down an enemy aircraft over 100 km away without even crossing the Indian air space.
The 5.1-metre-long SCALP can be carried in either one missile or two missiles configuration on the Rafale. Its inclusion means Indian Rafales would not have to cross the Indian airspace to hit a target that is about 600 km in enemy territory.
This is the first imported fighter to be inducted into Service since the Sukhoi-30s from Russia in the late 90s.
The first batch of five Rafale combat jets, escorted by SU30 MKIs, enter the Indian air space on its way to Ambala air base from France.
Why was Ambala chosen as the IAF base for the landing?
- Centrally located, the Ambala air station was India’s first IAF base after Independence. It is strategically located especially vis-a-vis India’s two neighbours Pakistan and China, both of whom have fought wars with India.
- After 1947, the Ambala base has written several glorious chapters in India’s military history – from the various wars with Pakistan and the Kargil conflict to the more recent Balakot air strikes
- It has earlier seen the induction of many new aircraft including the French Mystere, the Jaguar and the MiG-21 Bison squadron