India will have 17 Rafale jets by March this year and the entire fleet of the fighter aircraft bought by the country will reach by April 2022.
In 2016, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36-Rafale Jet aircrafts at a cost Rs 59,000 crore.
The first five Rafale aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) were formally inducted in September 10, 2020. The event was arranged by local resources of the Air Force.
India’s defence minister said all new aircraft types in IAF are traditionally inducted through a befitting ceremony. The total expenditure on the event was Rs 41.32 lakhs including Rs 9.18 lakh of GST.
To a follow up query on the possibility of privatising few aspects of defence in near future, the minister of defense, Rajnath Singh said, “We are giving special focus on indigenisation. 101 items have identified which will be manufactured locally and not imported,” he adds.
When will all the Rafale jets land in India?
The first batch of the five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of the aircrafts at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
The formal induction ceremony of the fleet had taken place nearly six weeks later.
A second batch of three Rafale jets arrived in India on November 3 while a third batch of another three jets joined the IAF on January 27.
“I want to inform that till 11 Rafale have arrived and by this March 17 Rafale will be on our land. I also inform that all Rafale will be reach India by April, 2022,” the minister said while replying a question in the Rajya Sabha.
Rafale jets are India’s first major acquisition
The Rafale jets are India’s first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 year after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.
The Rafale fleet has been carrying out sorties in eastern Ladakh where Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a standoff for the last nine months.
The first squadron of the Rafale jets was stationed at the Ambala air base while the second one will be based at the Hasimara base in West Bengal.
Read: Rafale Combat Aircrafts fourth batch lands in India after non-stop flying
The jets are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA’s Meteor air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of their weapons package.
Meteor is a next generation beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat. The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden.
China deploys J-20 jets to counter Rafale threat
Meanwhile, reports suggest that China has placed its premier J-20 jets close to the Line of Actual Control(LAC) as the Indian Air Force ramps up its Rafale fighters. Indian Air Force chief, RKS Bhadauria said, “They had brought their J-20 fighter aircraft to areas close to eastern Ladakh. He adds, “The moment Indian Rafales were brought in, their J-20 was there.”
“The moment Indian Rafales were brought in, their J-20 was there.”RKS Bhadauria, Chief of Indian Air Force
Bhadauria assured that the Indian Air Force(IAF) is fully prepared to face any situation along the Line of Actual Control(LAC) with China amid the standoff at the border.
Edited by: Radhika Udas, with agency inputs