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Saturday 18 January 2020

India gets 1st Rafale on Vijayadashami/Air Force Day

Before the Rafale jets arrives in India in May 2020, the country is developing the infrastructure needed to maintain the fighter aircraft here

On auspicious Vijayadashami and foundation day of the Air Force, India has got Rafale, one of the most powerful fighter planes in the world, which can change the course of a war. Considering the already proven capability of the IAF in the airstrikes on terrorists in Pakistan’s Balakot, the strength of the force will only turn deadlier.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today received the first Rafale fighter jet from France following the shaurya puja ceremony in Paris, as announced a few days ago. He wrote ॐ (Om) on the first Rafale. It is named RB 001 after Air Force Chief Rakesh Bhadauria. The delivery of Rafale will begin in May next year as the infrastructure needed to maintain it is still under development in India.

Earlier, Vice Chief Marshal Harjit Singh Arora, along with Rajnath Singh, reached the airbase in Bordeaux, France, where he was assigned the first Rafale jet as part of the handover programme. On arrival at the Bordeaux, he was welcomed by Eric Trappier, CEO of Rafale’s manufacturing company Dassault Aviation.

Rajnath Singh addressed the gathering at the event, saying, “Today is a historic day. Today, Dussehra is being celebrated in India, which we celebrate as the victory of good over evil. Today is also the Air Force Day. Today is historical in many ways. An intergovernmental agreement on Rafale was signed between India and France on 23 September 2016. I am glad to know that it is being delivered on time and that it will enhance the capacity of our Air Force. Our focus is on increasing the capacity of the IAF.”

The defence minister said, “I am happy that a large number of IAF airmen are currently training in France in the fields of flying, maintenance and logistics. Hopefully, this training will help them in India.”

Singh paid tribute to former French President Jacques Chirac, who had died recently. The minister said, “I pay tribute to former President Jacques Chirac on behalf of the Government of India and the people of the country. He was instrumental in establishing strategic relations between India and France with our former Prime Minister Atal ji (Atal Bihari Vajpayee).”

The defence minister thanked France for its support on issues other than defence, too. He said that he hoped the two big democracies would continue to work on peace, environmental stability and other issues. “It is an honour for me to fly Rafale,” he said.

India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jet aircraft for about Rs 59,000 crore.

Singh met with French President Emmanuel Macron before receiving Rafale. The meeting lasted for half-an-hour. Extensive discussion on important issues was held.

The plane had defeated all bidders in the contest to grab India’s MMRCA deal. Rafale, however, turned into a target of political propaganda before the Lok Sabha election of 2019. The Congress stopped complaining after receiving yet another drubbing in the election this year, as the plank did not work.

Rafale of India vs F-16 of Pakistan

With the addition of Rafale, a phase of India’s air domination will begin. It is believed that Rafale will give India new strategic capabilities. The Rafale’s low land jammer is equipped with capabilities such as up to 10 hours of data recording, Israeli helmet displays, multi-feature radar warning receiver, infrared search and tracking system.

A modern-day Pakistani F-16 fighter jet was shot down by India’s MiG-27 Bison, an improved version of a plane of the 1960s; vintage, in a dog fight of 27 February. Given such superior pilots that the IAF has, the big edge India will enjoy after acquiring and inducting the Rafale can be well imagined.

Rafale’s radar system is better than that of the F-16 (its ability to evade detection by enemy radars is better even than what India’s Su-30 MKI has). The radar system of F-16 identifies 20 targets in an 84-km radius while Rafale’s targets 40 in a radius of 100 km. Rafale can fly with scalp missiles that can hit targets at a distance of about 300 km while the F-16 can aim at targets up to 100 km.

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