France hands over 3 Rafale fighter jets with India-specific enhancements to IAF
In light of the Indian acquisition of Rafale, the Pakistani air force has decided to go for 25 Chinese made J-10 multi-role fighters as a counter and PLA Air Force has deployed the J-20, so called fifth generation fighter, at Hotan, Lhasa, Kashgar and Nyingchi air bases in Tibet and Sinkiang.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday received three of the last four Rafale fighter jets, as reported by Hindustan Times earlier. The fighter planes were handed over by France at Istres-Le Tube air base of Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation, and is situated north-west of Marseille.
After this, the IAF will wait for the right opportunity to take the fighter jets to India between February 15 and 20. According to people aware of the developments, the handed over planes will now be test-checked for all the details. The fighter jets are expected to arrive in India between February 15 and 16, the people cited above said.
When they fly out of France, these fighter jets will receive mid-air refueling by the air force of India’s close ally, the United Arab Emirates, using Airbus multi-role transport tankers.
These Rafale fighter jets are fully equipped with India specific enhancements, which will give them extra teeth to fight any regional adversary.
The last fighter jet is nearly ready with fresh paint and enhancements, but will arrive in April due to the reasons best known to IAF.
The last of the 36 contracted fighters from France is actually the first fighter used for training IAF personnel after the deliveries started from France. This fighter was inspected by Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar at the Istres air base during his visit to France for a high level defence dialogue in December 2021.
Although IAF remains tight-lipped over what India specific enhancements are on Rafale, it is learnt that these relate to long range Meteor air-to-air missile, low band frequency jammers, advanced communication systems, more capable radio altimeter, radar warning receiver, high altitude engine start up, synthetic aperture radar, ground moving target indicator and tracking, missile approach warning systems and very high frequency range decoys.
On the arrival of the fighter jets, the IAF will test the specific enhancements to their satisfaction under Indian conditions apart from verifying the original equipment manufacturers claims as per agreement. After this, work will begin in retrofitting the remaining 32 aircraft at Ambala in western sector and Hashimara air base in eastern sector with the India specific enhancements with all the related equipment already with the IAF. The upgradation exercise will be carried out at Ambala air base which has the maintenance cum repair set up for Rafale fighters in India.
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