Rafale jets bring joy to Ambala residents

Cheryl Sanders
July 31, 2020

Former Chief of Air Staff BS Dhanoa on Wednesday welcomed the arrival of Rafales in India and said he defended the deal to procure the multi-role jets notwithstanding the political controversy to stop it from going the Bofors way.

The five French Rafale fighter jets touched down at Ambala airbase in Haryana after covering a distance of almost 7,000 km to join the Indian Air Force. "These multirole aircrafts will revolutionise the capabilities of the @IAF_MCC", Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in a Twitter post shortly after the first Rafale touched down at Ambala. "The landing of Rafale fighter jets in India marks the beginning of a new era in our military history". "The baseless allegations against this procurement have already been answered and settled", Singh said, adding that "if anyone should be anxious about or critical about this new capability of the Indian Air Force, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity".

Singh also took a jibe at the Congress saying that the fighter jets were purchased when they fully met the operational requirements of the IAF and the baseless allegations against the procurement have already been answered.

The Defence Minister in his tweets noted that Rafale has a very good performance record, with "its weapons, radar and other sensors and Electronic Warfare capabilities... amongst the best in the world".

Years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inked a deal with France, of over Rs. 50,000 crore, the first batch of five Rafales left for India this week.

The Supreme Court, in a controversial decision, refused to review the deal.

India has a tradition of giving Indian names to its foreign platforms after induction, both its fighter jets and for its foreign-made naval warships.

Indian troops regularly clash with Pakistani soldiers along their de facto frontier in disputed Kashmir, which is also claimed by Pakistan.

Five rounds of talks between the two sides have failed to yield any substantial results. The flying force revealed in 2018 that it would be looking for quotes for around 110 more fighter jets, however the offer is yet to be settled. "The nation is aware of the intrusion on the Ladakh frontier by the Chinese", Kak said.

Meanwhile, Pravin Sawhney, a defense expert and editor of a popular defense news magazine, Force, said that the media frenzy surrounding the arrival of the fighter jets highlights a "heightened nationalistic fervor". The jets come armed with the beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air Meteor missile and 13 India specific enhancements - with the IAF billing it as a "gamechanger". The Rafale squadron will be totally functional when it has at least 18 airplane. "Why will they fight on your supposed strengths in air combat?" The 8,500-km flight was smooth for the five Rafales flown by IAF pilots all the way from Merignac in France, with mid-air refueling, a stopover in UAE, and a warm welcome of "may you touch the sky with glory" by Indian destroyer INS Kolkata deployed in the Arabian Sea and finally an escort by two Sukhois as they entered Indian airspace on Wednesday.

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