India to get its first Rafale jet at France event on Sept 19
The formal induction ceremony will be held in Merignac, France, and will be attended by IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, said one of the officials cited above.Updated: Sep 04, 2019 00:38 IST
France will formally hand over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) its first Rafale fighter jet on September 19, two people familiar with the move said on Tuesday.
The formal induction ceremony will be held in Merignac, France, and will be attended by IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, said one of the officials cited above. Defence minister Rajnath Singh is also likely to travel to France for the ceremony, he added, requesting anonymity.
As reported by Hindustan Times on July 24, the IAF had told the French government that the formal induction ceremony of the first of the 36 jets on order should be held in the third week of September, within three years of the signing of the contract.
While the formal induction will happen on September 19, the first batch of four Rafale jets will fly to their home base in India only next April-May. All 36 fighter planes will arrive by September 2022, a small step on the long road towards building a stronger air force.
India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore on September 23, 2016 — a deal that was at the centre of a political controversy in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The 2016 Rafale deal was an emergency purchase to arrest the worrying slide in the IAF’s combat capabilities. The count of the IAF’s fighter squadrons has dropped to 31 compared to an optimum strength of 42-plus units required to fight a two-front war with China and Pakistan.
The Indian fighters will be equipped with Meteor missiles built by European defence equipment maker MBDA Missile Systems. The Meteor’s no-escape zone is touted to be three times greater than that of current medium range air-to-air missiles.
The jets have been tailored for the IAF India-specific enhancements include helmet-mounted sight, radar warning receivers, flight data recorders with enough storage for 10 hours of data, infrared search and track systems, jammers, cold engine start capability to operate from high-altitude bases, and towed decoys to lure incoming missiles away.
Air Vice Manmohan Bahadur (retd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies, said, “The induction marks the entry of a new generation fighter jet in the IAF’s inventory with very potent capabilities.”