Home >News >India >Rafale jets to touch down at IAF station in Ambala today
Midair refuelling of one of the five Rafale jets, which took off from France on Monday, on its way to India. (Photo: PTI)
Midair refuelling of one of the five Rafale jets, which took off from France on Monday, on its way to India. (Photo: PTI)

Rafale jets to touch down at IAF station in Ambala today

  • The five aircraft landing in India include two twin seater trainer aircraft and three single seat fighter aircraft

NEW DELHI : Five French-built multi-role Rafale aircraft, which had taken off from France on Monday, will be touching down at the Indian Air Force’s Ambala station on Wednesday afternoon, two people familiar with the matter said.

The touchdown at the Ambala station after 2.00 pm on Wednesday comes almost four years after India signed an agreement with France to procure 36 Rafale jets under a 59,000-crore deal.

The five aircraft landing in India include two twin seater trainer aircraft and three single seat fighter aircraft. Besides Ambala, a second lot of Rafales are to be stationed at the Hashimara air force station in West Bengal. Deliveries of the aircraft are expected to be completed by late 2021.

Described as a “gamechanger" for the IAF, the induction of the fourth generation plus jets -- armed with the beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air Meteor missile and 13 India specific enhancements -- comes at a time of heightened tensions between India and China, and many advanced IAF platforms deployed along the India-China border.

For a while now, the IAF had been seen as handicapped vis-a-vis its challengers in the region, notably the Pakistan Air Force. According to one of the people cited above, Pakistan’s advantage over India has been the US-built F-16 fighter aircraft in its inventory. For each of Pakistan’s F-16 in the air, India has had to deploy two of its fourth generation Sukhois given its superior radars and missiles. With the Rafales in the Indian inventory, the equation alters India’s favour – to match one Rafale in the air, Pakistan will have to scramble two F-16s. Combined with the upcoming deliveries of the S400 air defence system, it will greatly enhance Indian air superiority in the region.

The Rafales ordered by India come with India specific enhancements -- helmet mounted sights and targeting system to give the pilots the ability to shoot off weapons besides modifications in the fuel starter system that will enable the aircraft’s engine to operate at optimum levels even at high-altitude air bases such as Leh. The aircraft also has towed decoy systems to thwart incoming missile attacks.

The Meteor BVR missile can take on an enemy aircraft at a range of over 100 km. The Scalp long-range ground attack missile, with a range of over 300 kilometres, can take out targets with extreme accuracy. The Rafale’s “RBE2 active electronically scanned array radar" allows for early detection and tracking of multiple air targets and generates three-dimensional maps of the terrain over which the jet is flying in real time.

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