Dassault hit its target of delivering 14 Rafales in 2021, with these transferred to export customer India. In a big boost to Indian Air Force (IAF), the third batch of three Rafale fighter jets landed in India on Wednesday evening after flying non-stop from France. The jets flew over 7000km with in-flight refuelling. With the arrival of the new batch, the number of Rafale aircraft has increased to 14.
Currently, the main airfield for the Rafale in India is the Ambala Air Force Base, located in the northern part of the country. The Indian command notes that the Air Force is going to increase the number of modern fighters in strategic areas, including in areas bordering Pakistan and China.
A tweet from the Indian Embassy in France read: “Three more Rafale jets take off from France for a non-stop flight to India with mid-air refuelling by UAE MRTT; adding more strength to India’s air power. Wishing our amazing pilots smooth flight & safe landing with superb fighter jets.”
The Indian media said at the same time that the Rafale fighters “will be a great option to counter the J-20 aircraft from the PRC.”
As a reminder, China is classifying its J-20s as next-generation fighters.
The statements by Indian observers and officers were followed by a reaction in the Chinese media. According to Sina Military:
The claim that the Rafale are capable of competing on an equal footing with the J-20 fighters is not subject to criticism. These are aircraft from completely different “weight categories”. If the J-20 is classified as a heavy fighter, then so does the Rafale.
The Chinese edition writes that India is misleading itself, talking about the comparability of Rafale and J-20.
It is important to emphasize that India is buying Rafale fighters from France at a great price. Together with the training of pilots and all weapons, one such combat aircraft costs about $ 217 million apiece.
Whatever Chinese propaganda may be reality is that Soviet-era Su-30MKI’s BARS radar detected J-20 in the past. Armed with Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles, Rafale is a formidable foe for J-20 fighters and definitely possesses serious threat to any Su-30s and J-11 Sino-Flankers.
The Indian Defense Research Wing says its Russian-made Su-30MKI fighter jets can spot the supposedly-stealth J-20s, and has already observed them in flight.
Indian Air Force Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa said the “Su-30 radar is good enough and can pick it (J-20) up from many kilometres away,” according to Indian news website Zee News.
India has been basing its Su-30MKIs in the northern part of the country to counter China’s deployments of J-20s, which struggle to take off in the high altitudes near Tibet, Zee News reported.
Currently, IAF is equipped with Rafale, Sukhois, LCA Tejas, Mirage 2000s and MIGs, in addition to Apache and Chinook helicopters, and transport aircraft such as the C-130Js and C-17 Globemasters.
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