New Delhi: July 29,2020 will go down as a landmark day in the history of the Indian Air Force and armed forces as the nation’s air warfare prowess is all set to take a quantum leap with the best-in-class omni-role Rafale fighter jets touching down at the Indian Air Force’s ‘Golden Arrow’ Squadron at Ambala. and getting inducted into IAF’s No.17 squadron later in the day.
Chief of Air Staff RKS Bhadauria will receive the five Rafale fighter jets at Ambala on Wednesday afternoon when the fleet arrives at the strategically key airbase, senior IAF officials apprised of this development to news agency PTI.
A formal induction ceremony will be held around mid-August which is expected to be attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and top military brass of the country.
The first five of the thirty six Rafales which flew out from the Dassault Aviation’s Merignac facility base in French port city of Bordeaux on Monday (July 27) landed at the Al Dhafra base in the United Arab Emirates on Monday night.
The 5-fleet Rafale jets finally took to the skies again on Wednesday, flying from the Persian Gulf to the Indian subcontinent to undertake the final leg of their journey to their ultimate destination at the IAF base in Ambala.
Earlier on Tuesday, Rafale jets were re-fuelled mid-air at 30,000 feet over the Mediterranean sea from a French Air Force tanker. There were some scintillating images of the same posted by the Indian embassy in France. “Indian Air Force appreciates the support provided by French Air Force for our Rafale journey back home,” tweeted Indian Air Force.
Hailed by military aviation experts around the world as one of the most advanced 4.5 generation fighter jet, the Dassault Aviation manufactured Rafale is a omnirole fighter aircraft capable of interdiction, ground support, aerial reconnaissance, in-depth aerial strikes, anti-ship strikes and even carrying out nuclear attacks (if the military conflict escalates to a nuclear conflict).
The formal induction of the first consignment of Rafales will surely add muscle to the strike capabilities of the Indian Air Force as the 4.5 generation French manufactured fighter jet will provide superior combative edge to the IAF fighter squadrons which at present largely comprises of third and fourth generation MiG29s, Sukhoi 30s and the Mirage 2000s
The induction of the 5 Rafale jets into the Indian Air Force come at the backdrop of an intense stand-off between the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh sector. Amidst the ongoing de-escalation process through a spree of military level and diplomatic channel talks, reports and satellite imagery are indicative that the Chinese have mobilized a lot of their mechanized columns, field artillery and even their fighter jets to advanced air bases along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
In wake of the current developments, the Indian Air Force is leaving no stone unturned by making routine sorties in the Ladakh sector to keep a strong vigil at the Chinese activities, besides keeping its fighter squadrons at a high state of alert if at all any threat from the adversary is thrown upon.
Renowned defence experts and military aviation authorities around the world have hailed the Rafale superior to the Chengdu J-20 and US F-16, which at present are the most potent fighter jets operated by the Chinese and Pakistani Air Force.
Rafale’s more powerful and durable engine, higher payload carrying capacity,more diverse weapon platform, combat engaging capability, superior sensors and more importantly to carry small nuclear weapons makes it a more lethal combat aircraft and the best in its class.Here is an overview on the major specifications and weaponry platform of the omnirole fighter jet which makes it a game changing weapon for the Indian Air Force
1. ENGINE AND SPEED
The Dassault Rafale twin-engine fighter jet is propelled and powered by two SNECMA M88 engines, which helps the fighter cruise at lightning quick speeds hovering around the 1.8 mach (over 2000 km per hour). The powerful engine gives it a combat range of over 3,700 km. It also has a Martin-Baker Mark 16F ‘zero-zero’ ejection seat, capable of operating at zero speed and altitude.
2. 4.5 GENERATION FIGHTER JET
Rafale is considered by avionic and defence experts as an omni-role fighter jet belonging or categorized as a 4.5 generation fighter aircraft. The French made jet is equipped with the state of art AESA radar, SPECTRA Electronic Warfare System and IRST system making it highly technologically advanced in terms of stealth and deception.Rafale has multi-directional radar which can detect 40 targets at the same time in a range of over 100 kms.It can even aim and engage eight different targets simultaneously3. WEAPONRY
The weaponry platform on the Rafale is equipped with carrying a plethora of missiles to execute both air-to-ground and air-to-air strikes. European missile maker MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, SCALP air-to-ground cruise missile and HAMMER air-to-ground precision-guided weapon will be the key armoury of a multi- weapon platform.
Rafale fighter jet has a twin gun pod mounted on it with a 30 mm cannon which can fire over 2500 rounds in a minute. It is also equipped with technology that enables laser guidance for missiles.
4. PAYLOAD CAPACITY
The Rafale is known to carry payloads (bombs and munitions) of more than 9 tonnes (9500 kg).This is more than the Sukhoi 30 MK1, which can carry loads of up to 8,000kg.The Rafale will not have to cross the Indian airspace to hit a target that is about 600 km in enemy territory.On September 23, 2016, Indian government had signed a whopping Rs 59,000 crore deal to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation. The first Rafale jet was handed over to the IAF in October last year during a visit to France by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.