As more Rafale fighters join the Indian Air Force’s fighter fleet, China has begun readying its best fighter, the J-20.
The J-20 participated in a high-profile People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) exercise in Dingxin, in the Gobi Desert, just south of Mongolia, in northern China, in August 2020. Six J-20s took part in the exercise that involved live-firing. The H-6 bomber, deployed near Ladakh, was also involved in the ten-day exercise.
China has been trying to replace the Russian engine of the J-20 with a more advanced locally-made version. There are reports that the J-20 twin-seater, a trainer, has the WS-10 engine and could have the more powerful WS-15 in the future.
So far, the Chinese have built about 50 J-20s and they’re, as expected split between their combat units and their training establishments, equivalent to the Indian Air Force’s TACDE. All the new J-20s are powered by the WS-10 engine.
China claims it is a stealth fighter, which means it cannot be picked up by radars, but military experts say the stealth works only on the frontal part of the J-20 whereas the rest of the body of the plane get caught in the radar.
China is now trying to develop serrated engine nozzles to reduce the ‘signature’ of the plane’s tail. It is not easy to maintain, requiring air-conditioned hangers for parking and servicing.
But China have plans for the J-20. There are plans to modify the plane for carrier operations. Currently, the PLAAF has two carriers– the Liaoning, acquired from Russia, and the Shandong. The Shandong has been active, having sailed to the Yulin submarine base late last year.
All Rafale jets to be inducted into IAF by April 2022: Rajnath
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on 8 February told the Rajya Sabha that all sanctioned Rafale fighter jets will be inducted into the Indian Air Force by April 2022. By March this year, seven Rafales will be inducted. The IAF till date has 11 of the ace fighter planes.
Three Rafale combat aircraft landed in India on 27 January night after flying non-stop from France, an Indian Air Force official said. The three jets added to the then fleet of eight Rafale aircraft.
It was the third batch of Rafale aircraft that landed after flying over 7,000 km from the Istres air base in France and used in-flight refuelling.
French company Dassault Aviation is the maker and manufacturer of Rafale fighter jets.
India received the first batch of five Rafale aircraft on 29 July 2020, which were inducted into the 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ Squadron on 10 September at the Ambala Air Base last year.
The second batch of three Rafale combat aircraft arrived in India on 4 November 2020.
India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 Rafale jets at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture. It is an omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie.
The fighter jet has HAMMER missiles. It will be armed with beyond visual range missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing its ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.