NEW DELHI: The long-awaited induction of the Rafale fighter jets marked an important milestone for the Indian Air Force (IAF), with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh presiding over the handover ceremony in France, Tuesday.
With this, India has introduced a game-changing technology vis-a-vis its two immediate western and northern neighbours with Singh underlining the IAF philosophy and its significance.
“I believe Rafale will boost India’s air dominance exponentially to ensure peace and security in the region,” Singh said.
India has contracted 36 (two squadrons) Rafale Fighters at a whopping Rs 59,000 crore after long-winded negotiations which began in 2006 but was only finalised in 2016. It has taken 13 long years for the first fighter to join the force.
Air Marshal VK Bhatia (Retd), security analyst, called it an ‘important development’ in the light of attrition of IAF fighter squadrons, which have of late come down to 30 from the sanctioned and required 42 to fight a two-front war, given the threat analysis and the complicated security environment around the country.
“The IAF had been waiting for this induction for long years given the major depletion of its combat capability,” Air Marshal Bhatia said. He added: “Rafale has fantastic combat punch as it is a multi-role aircraft-each unit capable of fighting the enemy in the air and also conduct precision strikes with its electronic warfare capability from stand-off range. It is a game-changer in the subcontinent.”
Military aviation experts say the electronic warfare capability of the Rafale jets is unmatched with its ability to suppress and blind enemy sensors and radars. It can not only penetrate enemy territory but also retains the choice of engaging enemy aircraft or ground targets, while remaining much inside Indian territory.