New Delhi: Amid escalated tension with China over border dispute in Eastern Ladakh, India is likely to receive the first batch of six Rafale fighter jets by July 27 which are expected to significantly boost the combat capability of the Indian Air Force. Also Read - India-China Disengagement at Hot Springs, Gogra Began on Monday; to be Completed in Few Days: Reports
In the wake of the Ladakh standoff, the Indian Air Force has been on a high alert for the last two weeks. In the bloody clash with China in Galwan Valley, 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. The two armies are locked in a bitter standoff in the region for seven weeks now. Also Read - Ladakh Standoff: ‘US Military to Stand With India,’ Indicates White House
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had on June 2 held a telephonic conversation with his French counterpart Florence Parly during which she conveyed that the Rafale jets will be delivered to India as scheduled notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic in France. Also Read - India in Talks With China Militarily And Diplomatically to Resovle Ladakh Standoff: Foreign Secretary
Military officials told news agency PTI that the arrival of the Rafale jets will significantly enhance the IAF’s overall combat capability and will send a clear message to India’s “adversaries”.
The first squadron of the aircraft will arrive at Ambala air force station as it is considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF.
India had in September 2016 signed an inter-governmental agreement with France for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.
Capable of carrying a range of potent weapons, the Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others
The IAF has already completed preparations, including readying required infrastructure and training of pilots, to welcome the fighter aircraft.
The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal. The IAF spent around Rs 400 crore to develop infrastructure like shelters, hangars and maintenance facilities at the two bases
Out of the 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers. The trainer jets will be twin-seater and they will have almost all the features of the fighter jets.