Morale Boost: Indian Air Force received five Rafale fighter jets

After an embarrassing failure of Su-30MKI in Kashmir skirmish against Pakistani F-16C and loss of 20 soldiers in Ladakh border, Indian Air Force gets some fire power to confront Pakistani F-16C and Chinese J-11B over Himalayan mountains.

Analysts say the arrival of the jets will boost the morale of the air force, which has been facing a shortage of fighter aircraft.

India’s air force has received five new Rafale fighter jets amid ongoing border tensions with China.

The aircraft are part of India’s deal with France in 2016 to buy 36 warplanes.

Delhi is hoping to modernise its dwindling Soviet-era air force fleet with the induction of Rafale multi-role jets.

Air Marshal (retd) Pranab Kumar Barbora said that it usually takes up to two years before a new squadron is fully functional. The Rafale squadron will be fully operational when it has at least 18 aircraft.

The delivery of the remaining Rafale aircraft is expected to be completed by next year.

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The jets, manufactured by French firm Dassault Aviation, took off from France on Monday and landed in the UAE for an overnight stopover. The journey showcased the aircraft’s endurance and mid-air fuelling capability.

India needs 42 squadrons in the scenario of a two-front war with China and Pakistan. But its squadron strength has been depleted to 31, largely because of ageing Russian aircraft.

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The Rafale deal

  • 2001: India decides to buy 126 fighter jets to strengthen its air force
  • 2007: Tenders are issued
  • 2008: Companies such as America’s Boeing, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation, Sweden’s Saab and France’s Dassault put in bids
  • 2012: Dassault, which submitted the lowest bid, is shortlisted
  • 2014: The deal is put on hold as the BJP’s Narendra Modi becomes PM
  • 2015: During his visit to France, Mr Modi announces India’s decision to buy 36 “ready to fly” Rafale jets
  • 2016: A deal is finalised to buy the 36 jets

The Indian government says it decided to buy the 36 jets in “fly-away” condition to quickly address the problem of the air force’s depleting strength.

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