Rafale to make R-Day debut: All you need to know
Among the many ‘firsts’ of the decade’s first Republic Day parade on Tuesday will be the participation of the newly-acquired Rafale fighter jets. A single Rafale aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) will put on a show on January 26, in what is a highly-anticipated display.
Here’s a look at some key points as the Rafale gets ready to make its R-Day debut:
1. During Tuesday’s flypast, the Rafale will fly in a “Vertical Charlie” formation. The aircraft flies at a low altitude, pulls up vertically and conducts a roll before stabilising at a higher altitude in the “Vertical Charlie” formation.
2. Besides Rafale, 41 other aircraft will be a part of different formations. These include 21 helicopters, 15 fighter jets, five transport aircraft and a vintage Dakota aircraft. The fighter jets include the Rafale, Sukhoi-30s and MiG-29s.
3. Rafale will fly with two Jaguars and two MiG-29s in one of the formations, before performing another manoeuvre to wrap up the flypast.
4. Rafale is a French-made twin-engine fighter aircraft. It is manufactured by French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation and was introduced in May 2001. Besides the IAF, the jet is used by air forces of Egypt, Qatar, Greece, among others.
5. For India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then French president Francois Hollande announced the deal for 36 Rafale fighters, worth ₹59,000 crore, in April 2015, during Modi’s state visit to France. In September 2016, the two countries signed an inter-government agreement (IGA) for the acquisition of the jets.
6. The deal, however, became subject of a major controversy, as opposition parties, led by Congress, accused the government of “corruption.” However, in December 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the deal and, in November 2019, dismissed petitions seeking review of its Rafale case judgement.
7. In October 2019, defence minister Rajnath Singh arrived in France to receive India’s first Rafale. During his visit, Singh also took a sortie in the Rafale, which translates to “gust of wind” in French.
8. Eventually, IAF pilots flew to India the country’s first five Rafale jets in July 2020, from France; the jets were due to arrive in May but the delivery was delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The fighters arrived at the Ambala air base and were inducted into the IAF’s “Golden Arrows” squadron in September.
9. India has received eight of the 36 Rafale fighters thus far. Besides the five that were inducted last September, three aircraft were flown to India in November 2020. Three more are scheduled to arrive by the end of this month, taking the total to 11.
10. The acquisition of Rafale marks India’s first acquisition of an imported fighter in more than two decades. In June 1997, the Russian Sukhoi 30 fighters began serving the IAF.
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