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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

Rafale, the fighter jet that will be a game changer for India: 10 points

The induction of the controversial Rafale fighter aircraft will be a “game changer” for India in regional politics of South Asia, as far as its neighbours are concerned, defence experts have reiterated.

india Updated: Oct 08, 2019 17:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will receive the first of the 36 Rafale aircraft in France today.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will receive the first of the 36 Rafale aircraft in France today.(AP Photo)
         

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will formally receive the first of the 36 Rafale aircraft in France today, even though the fighter jet will be seen in Indian skies only in May 2020.

The induction of the controversial Rafale fighter aircraft will be a “game changer” for India in regional politics of South Asia, as far as its neighbours are concerned, defence experts have reiterated.

Soon after taking over as the new chief of the Indian Air Force on September 30, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria had said that induction of the Rafale fighter jet is going to be a “game changer” for Indian defence. Rafale, categorized as a 4.5 generation aircraft for its radar-evading stealth profile, is important for the Indian Air Force since most of the aircraft in its fleet - including the Mirage 2000 and the Su-30 MkI - are classified as either third or fourth generation fighters.

Ten points that define the Rafale fighter aircraft

1. The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. The manufacturers describe it as a fully versatile aircraft which can carry out all combat aviation missions to achieve air superiority and air defence, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.

2. The first Rafale combat aircraft manufactured for India will bear the tail number RB-01, which are the initials of IAF chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. The new IAF chief had played a crucial role in the signing of India’s biggest ever defence deal worth about Rs 60,000 crore.

3. India had ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth about Rs 60,000 crore in September 2016. The formal handover ceremony takes place today but the first batch of four Rafale jets will fly to their home base in Ambala, India by May 2020.

4. All 36 jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022, for which the Indian Air Force has been undertaking preparations, including preparing required infrastructure and training of pilots.

5. The Rafale jets will be a crucial enhancement to India’s Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft fleet.

6. India will be the fourth country, after France, Egypt and Qatar, to fly the Rafale.

7. The Rafale fighter jet, however, cannot be compared with the J-20, an indigenously developed fifth-generation aircraft of China. The J-20 is soon set to be inducted in large numbers into the People’s Liberation Army Air Force of China after it was successfully developed and displayed.

8. 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 reduced to 31 compared to an optimum strength of 42-plus units required to fight a two-front war with China and Pakistan.

9. The Rafale fighter jets have been tailor-made for the Indian Air Force. 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.

10. The Rafale will be the first imported fighter jet to be inducted into the IAF in 22 years after the Russian Sukhoi-30 fighters. The first Su-30 entered IAF service in June 1997.