The first batch of five Rafale jets is expected to be in India on July 29. The “game-changer” aircraft will be inducted at Air Force Station Ambala, Haryana, on July 29, subject to weather, the Indian Air Force said. The final induction ceremony will take place in the second half of August 20.
“IAF aircrew and ground crew have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly advanced weapons systems and are fully operational now. Post arrival, efforts will focus on operationalisation of the aircraft at the earliest,” the IAF said. A total of 36 jets comprising two squadrons will be part of the Indian Air Force (IAF) over the course of next two years. While the first squadron will be operational from Ambala on the Western sector, the other one will come up in Hashimara in West Bengal to combat the Chinese threat.
The Rafale fighter jet is armed with potent meteor and scalp missiles that will enhance airstrike capabilities and air-dominance of the Indian Air Force. The meteor is a beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, while, scalp is a long-range cruise missile that can be launched from the aircraft for deep strikes to hit fixed and stationary targets.
There are still many India-specific enhancements that have been carried out. Indian Air Force personnel have trained with the French on several aspects like operations and maintenance. In a government-to-government agreement in 2016, India decided to buy 36 Rafales from the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. The purchase triggered a political storm with the Opposition accusing the government of striking the deal at an inflated price.