Rafale touches down Ambala IAF Base joins Golden Arrow Squad

New Delhi : Rafale is considered to be one of the finest fighters in the world. With its avionics, radars & weapon systems, it is the most potent aircraft in South Asia.

The deal is India’s first major acquisition of fighter planes in over two decades.

First batch of five Rafale jets flew out of France yesterday and touchdown in India Today, July 29, where the fighter jets officially induced and joins the Indian Air Force fleet in Haryana’s Ambala welcomed with a salute.

The fighter jets, built by French aviation firm Dassault, took off from the Merignac airbase in southern France’s Bordeaux today and landed safely at Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE after a sortie of more than seven hours.The only stoppage in between it’s journey from France to India.

The Rafale contingent established contact with Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata in the Western Arabian Sea soon after taking off from the United Arab Emirates. “Welcome to the Indian Ocean… May you touch the sky with glory,” the Naval warship was heard telling the aircraft’s commander in an audio.

The Defence Minister of India, Rajnath Singh wrote on Twitter as he welcomed the five aircrafts in India.

The five aircrafts are the first tranche of the 36 planes bought by India from France in a Rs 59,000-crore inter-governmental deal in 2016. Even though the IAF is supposed to come out with a Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) 2.0 for 114 fighters.

India’s Ambassador in France was at the airport when Rafale soared into the sky of Bordeaux. Jawed Ashraf was at the merignac airport to say bon voyage. A 1991-batch IFS officer, Ashraf took charge as India’s envoy to France about two weeks ago on July 13.

His association with the “beauty and beast” is not merely in his capacity as the envoy to France. He is a person who has seen the deal materialise, and on ground implementation and take-off within five years from his tenure in the Prime Minister’s office as a joint secretary to his posting in Paris now.

His counterpart in India, Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain, congratulated him on his posting by replying – “Happy first Bastille Day to my new counterpart in Paris JawedAshraf. India has chosen an outstanding professional to manage an exceptional relationship!”

Dassault Rafale In IAF :

The IAF was keen on buying the Mirage 2000s and its French maker, Dassault Aviation, had offered to shift the assembly line of aircraft from France to India. It had, at the time, decided to shut down the aircraft line to pave way for the Rafale fighter jets.

It has been marketed for export to several countries, and was selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force.

RAFALE is the seventh type of fighter plane in Indian Territory.

Rafale specification :

Rafale specification
An Image showing the special features of Rafale ( Image credit : aviatia.net)

Range of 3,700 km, it comes with its 10-tonne empty weight. It is fitted with 14 hard points. The aircraft comprised of Meteor which is a real game changer in the field of Air Crafts and fighter Jets. India manages to get new weapons beyond the certain standard package.

SCALP: A precision long range ground attack missile that can take out targets with extreme accuracy. Has a range of 300 km, capped by the missile technology control regime.

METEOR: is basically a long-range rocket and ram-jet powered, and its integration into the weapon system brings about a paradigm shift in air-to-air affairs since it has a range of over 150 km with a zero escape kill distance of 120 km.

It means an Indian Rafale jet will be able to shoot down an enemy aircraft, even if over 100 km away, without even crossing the Indian air space.

Neither Pakistan nor China possess a weapon as deadly as the Meteor.

The aircraft’s canards also act to reduce the minimum landing speed to 115 knots (213 km/h; 132 mph); while in flight, airspeeds as low as 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) have been observed during training missions. According to simulations by Dassault, the Rafale has sufficient low speed performance to operate from STOBAR-configured aircraft carriers, and can take off using a ski-jump with no modifications.

It is an aerodynamically unstable aircraft and uses digital fly-by-wire flight controls to artificially enforce and maintain stability.

Also Read : India’s Rafale edge: A look at all the special features of the advanced fighter jet

The Allegation :

Rafale Deal
Rafale deal. Image Credit : Outlook India

Indian National Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari asked for details of the agreement to be made public and questioned if there was an escalation of per-aircraft cost from ₹715 crore to ₹1,600 crore, the day after signing the intergovernmental deal.

In November 2017, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala alleged that HAL was bypassed in the Rafale contract and questioned the presence of Anil Ambani in France during Modi’s announcement to acquire 36 fully built aircraft.

He alleged that procurement procedures were bypassed in acquisition of the french aircraft and questioned if there was an escalation of per-aircraft cost from ₹526.1 crore to ₹1,570 crore but Nirmala SitaRaman denied the allegations.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi accused Indian prime minister Narendra Modi of dropping the requirement of licensed manufacture by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to ensure that the privately owned Reliance Defence Limited obtained an offset contract from Dassault.

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman denied the allegations and said that transfer of technology to HAL would not be economically feasible in a smaller contract for 36 aircraft, which was an emergency purchase to make up for a decade-long delay.

She said that the prices could not be compared as the tender for 126 aircraft and the agreement for 36 aircraft had different requirements.

Why need Rafal ?

Rafale features
Image showing Rafale features.(Image Credit : Network18 Creative )

Prime Minister Modi said, “Rafale fighters could have delivered even better results”. His reference was apparently to the stealth of Rafale, an air-dominance aircraft manufactured by French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation.

Since India was waiting for deliveries of Rafale when the attacks happened, the Indian Air Force deployed a dozen Mirage-2000 aircraft, made by the same company to hit the targets.

Delivery officially started in October last year when the first Rafale jet was handed over to the IAF during a visit to France by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The planes stayed in France for training of the pilots and mechanics.

All the jets are to be delivered by 2022.

Also Read :

Shaurya Chakra and Commanding Officer of Rafale’s elite 17 Squadron – Who is Group Captain Harkirat Singh?