Indian Air Force fleet in April, 2022: How 36 Rafale fighters will change air equation along LAC in eastern Ladakh

In 2016, India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36-Rafale fighter aircraft at a cost Rs 59,000 crore.

India's Rafale power

India will have 17 Rafale jets by March this year and the entire fleet of the fighter aircraft bought by the country will reach by April 2022. 

In 2016, India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36-Rafale Jet aircrafts at a cost Rs 59,000 crore. 

The first five Rafale aircraft of IAF were formally inducted into IAF on September 10, 2020. The arrangements for this event were made mostly through local resources of IAF.

(Photograph:AFP)

Rafale at full strength in IAF by April 2022

"I want to inform that till 11 Rafale have arrived and by this March 17 Rafale will be on our land. I also inform that all Rafale will be reach India by April, 2022," the minister said while replying a question in the Rajya Sabha.

India's defence minister said all new aircraft types in IAF are traditionally inducted through a befitting ceremony. The total expenditure on the event was Rs 41.32 lakhs including Rs 9.18 lakh of GST.

To another supplementary query whether the government will privatise few aspects of defence in the coming days, the minister said, "We are giving special focus on indigenisation".

He said 101 items have identified which will manufactured locally and not imported."

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Rafale jets are India's first major acquisition

The first batch of the five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of the aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.

The formal induction ceremony of the fleet had taken place nearly six weeks later.

A second batch of three Rafale jets arrived in India on November 3 while a third batch of another three jets joined the IAF on January 27.

The Rafale jets are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 year after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.

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Rafale carries out sorties in eastern Ladakh along LAC

The Rafale fleet has been carrying out sorties in eastern Ladakh where Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a standoff for the last nine months.

The first squadron of the Rafale jets wasstationed at the Ambala air base while the second one will be based at the Hasimara base in West Bengal.

The jets are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA's Meteor air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of their weapons package.

Meteor is a next generation beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat. The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden.

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China deploys J-20 jets to counter Rafale threat

Meanwhile, reports say China has placed its premier J-20 jets close to the Line of Actual Control(LAC) as the Indian Air Force ramps up its Rafale fighters. In fact, Indian air chief RKS Bhadauria had said recently that "They had brought their J-20 fighter aircraft to areas close to eastern Ladakh," adding,"The moment Indian Rafales were brought in, their J-20 was there." 

"We know their actions and capabilities," India's air chief said on China's capabilities. Bhadauria said Rafale fighter jets had caused worries in the Chinese camp. The IAF had deployed the Rafale fighters in eastern Ladakh after it was procured from France.

India's air chief  RKS Bhadauria said that the Indian Air Force(IAF) is fully prepared to face any situation along the Line of Actual Control(LAC) with China amid the standoff at the border.

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J-20 aircraft 'Black Eagle'

NATO calls the J-20 aircraft "Black Eagle", reports say the front portion resembles the F-22 Raptor and the rear section Sukhoi T-50. A Russian company has denied reports that it has given stealth technology to Chengdu J-20 fighter aircraft.

China's fighter jet has PL-12C/D and PL-21 air to air missiles (AAM) including PL-10 short-range AAM.

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J-20 origins under lens

As J-20s begin to fill squadrons in the People’s Liberation Army and a generalized fear of Chinese firms as dishonest international players is increasingly propagated by Western powers, the attacks on the J-20s origins have only increased.

Source: Sputnik

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China may have downgraded the super jet

The Chinese J-20 is touted to be the most advanced fighter jet in the Dragon's arsenal with advanced long-range strike capability with sophisticated artificial intelligence capability. Reports say China has at least 20 J-20 jets.

However, the key question is whether the J-20s which have largely been untested in battle conditions can operate in the high altitude regions in the upper Himalayas?

In fact, there were reports that China may have downgraded the super jet after a Global Times report said it was a "fourth-generation" fighter and not a "fifth-generation" jet.

Even though the Chinese Air Force likes to compare the J-20 to the US F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters but western experts feel the Chinese jets still have some way to go because China still hasn't tested it in "war-like" live situations.

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China's fighter was 'inspired' by American theories on air combat

The J-20 can reportedly climb at the rate of 304m/s with a maximum speed of 2,100km/h. The single-seater fighter jet has been manufactured by China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG).

A major controversy had erupted after China's J-20 designer Yang Wei had said that China's fighter was "inspired" by American theories on air combat.

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Beyond Visual Range interception

It has been cleared to operate weapons like the MICA air-to-air 'Beyond Visual Range' (BVR) interception, combat and self-defence missiles, the METEOR very long-range air-to-air missile, the HAMMER -- Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range -- modular, rocket-boosted air-to-ground precision-guided weapon series, laser-guided bombs with different warheads, and "specifics armaments" selected by some clients.

The Rafale is also fitted with 14 hardpoints, out of which five are capable of drop tanks and heavy ordnance.

The jet's total external load capacity is more than nine tonnes.

"Hence, Rafale can lift the equivalent of its own empty weight in payloads," according to Dassault. As per the manufacturers, the pilot interface is very easy to use and relies on a highly integrated suite of equipment which has capabilities for short-term, medium and long-term actions.

The design of the cockpit gives a wide field of view at the front, on both sides, and at the rear.

(Photograph:AFP)

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