Last of modified Rafale jets to arrive by February: reporttext_fields
As part of India's order of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, 3 of the last 4 planes in the deal will reach India by February 1, a report by the Hindustan Times said. The new jets will have 'India-specific' modifications that will better equip the Indian Air Force against regional adversaries.
The fighter jets will leave Istres-le Tube airport in Marseilles on February 1, and will make their way to India. A mid-air refueling mission will be conducted with the aid of close ally the United Arab Emirates Air Force, using Airbus multi-role transport tankers. The fourth and last jet will arrive in April 2022.
The last of the 36 contracted fighters from France is actually the first fighter used for training IAF personnel after the deliveries started from France. This fighter was inspected by Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar at the Istres air base during his visit to France for a high level defence dialogue in December 2021.
While the exact nature of the modifications is not clear, speculation by defence experts has pegged them as: long range Meteor air-to-air missile, low band frequency jammers, advanced communication systems, more capable radio altimeter, radar warning receiver, high altitude engine start up, synthetic aperture radar, ground moving target indicator and tracking, missile approach warning systems and very high frequency range decoys.
The IAF will test the jets on arrival and ensure they meet the demands of Indian conditions as well as manufacturer claims before being used as models to retrofit the other 32 Rafale jets already stored at the Ambala and Hashimara air bases. The retrofitting of parts will be carried out at Ambala which has all the necessary equipment.
In light of the Indian acquisition of Rafale, the Pakistani air force has decided to go for 25 Chinese made J-10 multi-role fighters as a counter and PLA Air Force has deployed the J-20, a so-called fifth generation fighter, at Hotan, Lhasa, Kashgar and Nyingchi air bases in Tibet and Sinkiang, the report by HT claimed.
The NDA government had inked a Rs 59,000-crore deal in September 2016 to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft for the IAF did not fructify during the UPA regime.