6 Rafales to fly in by July-end, boost IAF amid LAC stand-off

In­dia urges France to speed up de­liv­ery of jets; mis­sile de­liv­ery be­gins

Deccan Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - PAWAN BALI I DC

In a big boost to the In­dian Air Force’s air power at a time of when the coun­try is in­volved in a bit­ter stand-off with China, six Rafale fighter air­craft armed with Me­teor and Scalp cruise mis­siles, will fly into In­dia by July end.

In­dia has asked France to speed up the de­liv­ery of the Rafale fight­ers. Ac­cord­ing to the orig­i­nal plan, four Rafale jets were to ar­rive in In­dia by the end of July. France is work­ing to see if an ad­di­tional two air­craft can be sent af­ter the re­quest by the In­dian gov­ern­ment.

The Rafale jets will give In­dia an edge over China and Pak­istan as they will be armed with the ad­vanced be­yond visual range (BVR) Me­teor air-to-air mis­siles which have a range of up to 150 km. Nei­ther the Pak­istan Air Force nor the Peo­ple's Lib­er­a­tion Army Air Force (PLAAF) has a mis­sile to counter it. The Me­te­ors could prove deadly dur­ing a dog­fight.

Rafale fight­ers will also be armed with Scalp cruise air-to-sur­face mis­siles, which have a range of over 300 km. The de­liv­er­ies of both th­ese mis­siles have be­gun, said sources.

The Rafales flown by IAF pi­lots will reach the Am­bala air base on July 27 af­ter a stopover at an air base in Abu Dhabi. In­dian pi­lots and tech­ni­cians have been un­der­go­ing train­ing in France for many months. Around 10 Rafale jets have been de­liv­ered to In­dia in France and some of them are un­der­go­ing ad­vance test­ing by In­dian crew be­fore they are flown into the coun­try.

Four of the jets were to have been de­liv­ered by the end of May, but the sched­ule was af­fected due to the Coro­n­avirus pan­demic and sub­se­quent lock­down. In 2016, In­dia signed a `59,000-crore deal for 36 Rafales which will be based in the Am­bala and Hasi­mara (West Ben­gal) air bases.

In­dia has been con­tact­ing its de­fence part­ner coun­tries ask­ing them for quick de­liv­ery of weapons and spare parts due to height­ened ten­sions with China.

De­fence min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh dur­ing a visit to Moscow last week, had asked Rus­sia for timely de­liv­ery of weapons and spare parts needed for tanks, air­craft and he­li­copters. In­dia had also planned to pur­chase 33 MiG-29 and Sukhoi30 MKI air­craft from Rus­sia.


An In­dian Air Force (IAF) fighter jet flies in the skies of Leh in Ladakh on Mon­day. The IAF is ex­pected to get an ad­van­tage with the Rafale over China and Pak­istan.

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