Those trying to threaten territorial integrity of India should be worried now: Rajnath
The first batch of five Rafale fighter jets landed at the Ambala airbase on Wednesday. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the presence of Rafale will revolutionise the capabilities of the IAF. In a veiled warning to China and Pakistan, he also said those trying to threaten the territorial integrity of the country should be worried now.
The much-awaited jets landed at the Ambala airbase in the presence of IAF Chief RKS Bhadauria. Covering a distance of more than 7,000 km from France over two days, the five jets were escorted by two SU-30 frontline planes when the Rafales entered the Indian airspace. Upon touching base, the new planes were given the customary water canon salute by bowsers at the airstrip. They will formally join the NO. 17 Golden Arrows squadron.
“The touch down of Rafale combat aircraft in India marks the beginning of a new era in our Military History. These multirole aircraft will revolutionalise the capabilities of the IAF,” Rajnath said in a series of tweets.
Maintaining that the Rafale jets were purchased when they fully met the operational requirements of the IAF, he said “I would like to add, if anyone who should be worried about or critical about this new capability of the IAF, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity.”
He also said the aircraft has very good flying performance and its weapons, radar and other sensors and electronic warfare capabilities are amongst the best in the world. “Its arrival in India will make the IAF much stronger to deter any threat that may be posed on our country.”
Rajnath also said the “baseless” allegations against this procurement have already been “answered and settled.” It was in apparent reference to the Congress launching a vociferous campaign claiming wrongdoing in the deal and favouring some Indian industrial houses.
Home Minister Amit Shah described the arrival of the jets as a historic day and said the induction of these planes will prove to be a “game changer.” The Home Minister said they are the world’s most powerful machines capable of thwarting any challenge in the sky.
In a series of tweets, Shah also said the Modi Government is committed to building on India’s defence capabilities. The induction of the next generation aircraft is a true testimony of the Prime Minister’s resolve to make India a powerful and secure nation, he said.
Ahead of the arrival of the jets, Section 144 was imposed around the Ambala Cantonment to prevent large gatherings and public were advised not to gather on rooftops.
Incidentally, the IAF has got a modern and versatile fighter jet after two decades.
The last planes to be inducted were the US-30s originally manufactured by Russia.
To overcome the shortage of fighter jets and depleting squadron strength, the NDA Government in 2016 inked a Government-to-Government deal worth over Rs 60,000 crore for 36 Rafales with France. Dassault Aviation is manufacturing these planes with 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE).
The delivery schedule is on time and the entire fleet of the jets will arrive in India by the end of 2021. The multi-role Rafales will be based at the strategically important Ambala air station in the north and Hashimara, West Bengal in the east.
The infrastructure is complete at the two airbases with technicians and ground crew already trained to handle the aircraft at the Ambala base. In the first lot, 12 IAF pilots were trained by the French.
With ongoing tension at the LAC, the IAF will now work overtime to operationalise these jets for any contingency. The IAF has already deployed its frontline SU-30, Jaguars and MIG-29s at nearly all the forward bases near the 4,000 km long LAC.
As the jets entered the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, stealth destroyer INS Kolkata deployed in the Western Arabian Sea established contact and wished them happy landing.
The five jets, three single seat and two twin-seater trainers were flown from France by IAF pilots led by Commanding Officer of No. 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron Group Captain Harkirat Singh. The jets made a stopover at Al Dafra airbase in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and were supported by French Air Force mid-air refuellers on the first leg of the journey till the UAE.
Rajnath took formal delivery of the first jet in France last October and the jets have since been used for training there. Delivery of 10 aircraft has been completed so far of which five will stay back in France for the training mission. Following India’s request, France has speeded up deliveries of Meteor Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missiles along with the first batch of jets.
The first Rafale built by Dassault Aviation for the IAF, a two-seater variant made its maiden flight on October 30, 2018, in France. It is designated RB-008. The RB-008 will also be the last aircraft to be delivered to IAF as all India Specific Enhancements (ISE) will be validated on it before being incorporated on other jets.
The ISE include Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, infra-red search and tracking systems among others. In addition, the Rafale is armed with the Meteor missile considered a game-changer in the region with a range of over 150 km, SCALP long-range stand-off attack air-to-ground missile and MICA multi-mission air-to-air missiles. The IAF is also arming the Rafale with HAMMER (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) medium-range air-to-ground missiles being procured through emergency route.
Thursday, 30 July 2020 | PNS | New Delhi