Rafale fighter jets land at Ambala air force station

Sakal Times News Desk
Wednesday, 29 July 2020

The first five of a batch of French Rafale fighter jets touched down at Haryana's Ambala on Wednesday

The first five of a batch of French Rafale fighter jets touched down at Haryana's Ambala on Wednesday after covering a distance of 7,000 km to join the Indian Air Force fleet.

"Welcome to the Indian Ocean... May you touch the sky with glory," the Naval warship was heard commanding a Rafale commander in audio.

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria received the fleet at Ambala. The jets were refulled mid-air from a French tanker at a height of 30,000 feet. The Rafale jets are India's first major gaining of fighter planes in over two decades and they are expected to knowingly boost the Indian Air Force's fight abilities.

Security was tightened near the airbase, located around 200 km from the border with Pakistan and large gatherings are banned nearby villages. There were also restrictions on people gathering on rooftops and any filming.

The first Rafale jet was handed over in October last year when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited France. The planes stayed in French base for training of the pilots and mechanics. All the jets are to be delivered by 2022.

The fleet comprises three single seater- and two twin seater- aircraft. They will be inducted into the Indian Air Force as part of its No 17 Squadron, also known as the Golden Arrows at Ambala air base. The Air Force has stated that the pilots, ground crew and the fighter will be operationally ready as the jets reach India.

Rafale would be a game changer in the current scenario when India is facing border tension with China in Eastern Ladakh. It is being stated that it will increase India's air power manifold.

Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture. Senior Indian Air Force officers state that China's premier fighter jet Chengdu J-20A is no match to Rafale capabilities which has been seen in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

China claims that its J-20 is a 5th generation fighter aircraft, however, it has a 3rd generation engine, said a senior IAF officer questioning stealth capabilities of the aircraft.

China is now going to buy Russian Su35 to match Rafale. The officer also said that Rafale is an omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie. However, China J-20 cannot carry out multiple missions in one go.

Further, the Rafale fighter aircrafts will have HAMMER missiles. It will also be armed with beyond visual range missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.

The meteor missile in Rafale makes it far more potent than the J-20. The officer also explained that the Rafale engine is better in terms of reliability, longevity and maintainability. The officer further pointed out that Rafale can lift loads up to 1.5 times its weight, which means it can carry weapons and fuel of far greater capacity than the J-20.

In Western Theatre Command, Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force has deployed 157 fighters and 20 GJ-1/WD-1K precision strike UAVs. India has deployed 270 fighter aircrafts and 68 ground attack aircrafts.

(With inputs from IANS)

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