By Khadija Khan
India will have 17 Rafale jets by March this year, adding 2 more to her already existing squadron of 14. The entire fleet of the French fighter aircraft will be completed by April of the year 2022. The roots of this can be traced back to 2016, when India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36-Rafale Jet aircrafts at the cost of Rs 59,000 crores.
The first five Rafale aircraft of IAF were formally inducted into IAF on September 10, 2020. The arrangements for this event were made mostly through local resources of IAF.
India’s defence minister said all new aircraft types in IAF have been traditionally inducted through a grand ceremony. The total expenditure on the event that took placec six weeks ago was Rs 41.32 lakh, including Rs 9.18 lakh of GST.
The defence minister also said that the Indian government is focusing on indigenization vis-à-vis a query on the privatization of the defense sector. He also added that 101 items have been identified which will be manufactured locally and will not imported.
Rafale jets are India’s first major acquisition in 23 year after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.
Rafale carries out sorties or defense attacks in eastern Ladakh along LAC 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 Asmara , West Bengal.
These jets are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA’s Meteor air-to-air missile, designed for air to air combat and Scalp cruise missile will be the highlights of this package.
China deploys J-20 jets or the ‘Black Eagle’ to counter Rafale threat. In fact, Indian air chief RKS Bhadauria had said recently that “They had brought their J-20 fighter aircraft to areas close to eastern Ladakh,” adding, “The moment Indian Rafales were brought in, their J-20 was there.” However, according to reports , China may have downgraded the super jet after a Global Times report said it was a “fourth-generation” fighter and not a “fifth-generation” jet.
By Khadija Khan