New Delhi: In the midst of the border row with China, the first five-aircraft squadron of the much-awaited Rafale jets are all set to fly out of France on Monday to join the expanding Air Force fleet in Ambala, Haryana, by Wednesday morning. Also Read - Captain Sathe, ex-IAF Pilot, Who Died in Tragic Kozhikode Plane Crash
The jet planes will be refuelled by French Air Force tanker aircraft on their way to an airbase in the UAE on Tuesday before leaving for India, the Indian Embassy said today. Also Read - Indian Air Force STAR Exam Tentative Date Out: Exam Likely in Third Week of August | Read Details
The first batch of Rafale jets also includes Trainer RB-003, in which ‘RB’ for Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, the Chief of Air Staff. Also Read - 'Welcome Home You Beast': Netizens' 'Josh' Amps up as Rafale Fighter Jets Land at Ambala Air Force Base
With the induction of the mega fleet, the Indian Air Force plans to integrate it with new generation air-to-ground missile systems having a strike range of up to 60 KM, officials told PTI.
Notably, the Rafale aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons, including mainstays like the European missile maker MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapons system.
If reports are to be believed, the first batch will be deployed in eastern Ladakh, where India and China recently witnessed a violent clash. The union defence ministry this month granted special powers to the three services for individual capital procurement programme worth Rs 300 crore to meet emergent operational requirements.
Besides the missile systems, 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.
Speaking at the 21st-anniversary event of Kargil War, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that India is a peace loving country but “we are ready to take any big step that is required to defend its national unity and sovereignty”.
The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal. The IAF spent around Rs 400 crore to develop required infrastructure like shelters, hangers and maintenance facilities at the two bases.
Out of 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.