The integration of Rafale fighter jets gives the country an edge and the capability to strike first and deep, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said on 5 October three days ahead of the Air Force Day parade on 8 October.
“Integration of Rafales brings in a platform which is way ahead and would give us an edge and capability to strike first and deep,” Bhadauria, the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief said.
During the IAF day flypast, all eyes will be on the Rafale jets that are set to take part for the first time. A total of 56 aircraft, including 19 choppers and seven transport aircraft, will fly during the parade.
“Rafale is a 4.5 generation, twin-engine omnirole, air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship and nuclear deterrence fighter aircraft, equipped with a wide range of weapons,” IAF had tweeted on 3 October.
The newly-inducted Rafale fighter jets have been made operational in the Ladakh theatre where the military is on its highest state of alert amid the border standoff with neighbouring China. The IAF currently has a fleet of five Rafale fighters. India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016.
Jaguar, Sukhoi-30, Mig 29, Tejas, Mirage 2000, Mig 21 Bison will be part of the parade in addition to Mi 35 gunships, Apache attack choppers, C 17 heavy lifters, C130 J Special Ops planes. The Chinook multi-mission choppers will also make an appearance during the flypast.
Ready for any conflict including two-front war: Bhadauria
The Chief of Air Staff made the statement when asked whether the Indian Air Force is ready for a two-front war with Pakistan and China.
“The emerging threat scenario in our neighbourhood and beyond mandates need to have a robust capability to fight across the entire spectrum of warfare…I can share with you with confidence that operationally, we are amongst the best… Our capabilities have surprised our adversary. Indian Air Force is transforming at a rapid pace,” he said at a press briefing.
The IAF chief further said the force is “very well positioned” when asked whether they are ready to deal with any challenge from China in Ladakh.
“We have made deployment in all relevant operational locations; Ladakh is a small area…Be rest assured that we have deployed strongly and firmly in place to handle any contingency… There is no question that, in any conflict scenario there, China can get the better of us,” he…Our position as a credible combat-ready force is vital, given the role Air Force will play towards ensuring victory in any future conflict,” he asserted.
Last month, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria had said the present security scenario along northern frontiers is at an “uneasy no war no peace status” while assuring that the defence forces are “prepared for any eventuality”.
India has been locked in a bitter standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas in eastern Ladakh. The tension between the two countries escalated following the 15-16 June Galwan Valley clash in which 20 Indian Army soldiers including a Colonel were killed.
India’s already strained relationship with Pakistan worsened last year after the Indian Air Force carried out air strike across the Line of Control (LoC) targetting training camps of the terrorist organisation – Jaish-e-Mohammed that claimed the responsibility for the dastardly Pulwama terror attack that killed 44 CRPF personnel.