New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Indian Air Force has confirmed that it will receive the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets likely by end of this month. "The first batch of five Indian Air Force Rafale is likely to arrive in India by end of July. The aircraft will be inducted at Air Force Station Ambala on July 29 subject to weather," read the IAF statement. The IAF also said that the final induction ceremony would take place in the second half of August.

Several media reports suggest that the Air Force could deploy Rafale fighter in the Ladakh sector as part of its efforts to enhance its operational capabilities along the LAC in view of the ongoing border tensions with China.

“The IAF’s air and ground crews have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly-advanced weapons systems, and are fully operational now. Efforts will focus on operationalisation of the aircraft at the earliest,” said Wing Commander Indranil Nandi.

Signing an inter-governmental agreement in September 2016, India had ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore as an emergency purchase to arrest the worrying slide in the IAF’s combat capabilities.

‘Dassault Rafale Fighter Jet: Origin and Importance’

An air-dominance aircraft manufactured and designed by Dassault Aviation, Rafale is a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). Known for its agility, speed, weapon holding capacity, and attack capability, the Dassault Rafale has a delta wing design and is capable of g-forces as high as 11g (in case of emergency). It is believed to boost India’s air dominance exponentially and is capable of carrying small nuclear weapons. Equipped with precision-guided air-to-air missile and air-to-ground missile, the fourth-generation Rafale fighter jets can provide the IAF much-needed muscle amid a depleting fighter strength.

It was first in the mid-1970s that both the French Air Force and Navy expressed a requirement for a new generation of fighters and in early ’80s, Dassault was formally announced to build aircraft for the French government and the testing began in 1991 while the production of the first aircraft series started in late 1992.

The Dassault Rafale has been combat-proven and countries like Egypt and Qatar along with the French Military including Air Force and Navy are the current operators of the Rafale MMRCA and now India is all set to join the list this year.

The Rafale has actively participated in many wars from 2006 to 2011 in the last 13 years. Recently, Rafales fighter jets were used in support of peace-keeping operations in the Central African Republic, and as part of a wide international coalition in Iraq.

'India and Rafale deal'
The process of inducting additional fighter jets in India began in 2007 when the Defence Acquisition Council, headed by then Defence Minister AK Antony, approved the ‘Request For Proposal’ to buy 126 aircraft in August 2007. According to this plan, the DAC acquired 126 aircraft, 18 of them in fly-away condition and the remaining were to be made in India at the Hindustan Aeronautics facility under transfer of technology.

Under the Indian government’s mammoth plan to revamp its air force fleet, the contract of 126 fighter jets was touted to be the largest-ever defence procurement deal of India. Although the initial bidders included Lockheed Martin’s F-16s, Boeing’s F/A-18s, Eurofighter Typhoon, Russia’s MiG-35, Sweden’s Saab’s Gripen but Dassault bagged the contract to provide 126 fighter jets as it was the lowest bidder and the aircraft was said to be easy to maintain.

Negotiations between the Indian and Dassault side were then started in 2012. A change in the already sealed deal happened when India bought 36 fighter jets instead of 126 and that too in ready condition. By the end of 2019, the first squadrons of the Rafale are set to join the IAF fleet.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh received the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets and flew a sortie in the MMRCA fighter jet from a French airbase in Paris to gain first-hand experience of the aircraft. Rajnath was accompanied by Air Marshal HS Arora, Vice Chief of the Air Staff, for the formal acceptance ceremony of the aircraft at Bordeaux, France.

Posted By: Simran Babbar