NEW DELHI: The second batch of three Rafale jets arrived in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India on Wednesday, the Indian Air Force has tweeted. The jets reached the air base after flying non-stop for some 7,000 km from France. This was unlike the delivery of the first batch of five jets that arrived Ambala after a stop-over in the UAE, on July 29 last.
The delivery for the rest of the 36 fighter jets, for which agreement had been signed between Rafale and the Modi government, will be done in stages, up until 2023. Some three to four jets will reach India every two to three months from now, officials said.
India earmarked around ₹ 60,000crore for the 36 aircraft. Rafales are the first western combat aircraft in Indian possession, the last induction before the Rafale deal being of the arrival of a fleet of fighter aircraft Sukhoi from Russia in the late 1990s.
The Rafale fighter jets will be India’s main strength in the air against China, as also Pakistan. In the Ladakh region, China is battle-ready and engaged in a series of provocations against India including the killing of 20 Indian soldiers recently in one single incident. India retaliated, but the casualties on the Chinese side remains a closely guarded secret on the part of China. Since the counter-attack took place late at night in the mountainous region, the Indian side is not certain as to the casualties on the Chinese side.
China’s air force has a fleet of over 2,500 fighter jets, cargo planes and drones for military use. Reports say China recently inducted a set of Chengdu J20 aircraft to its fleet of fighter jets. These are as sophisticated as the US F22 and F35C fighters. J20s can evade radar detection and fly at supersonic speed. They are capable of carrying loads of short-range missiles. Indian defence experts however stress that Rafale has superior strengths and technology. IHN-NN
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