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Arrival of Rafale: A morale booster for Indian Air Force

Arrival of Rafale: A morale booster for Indian Air Force
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Wednesday is an historic day for the country as the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets touched down to a special water cannon salute at the Ambala air base.

Wednesday is an historic day for the country as the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets touched down to a special water cannon salute at the Ambala air base. Let us join the country in welcoming the game changers by repeating the tweet of the Indian Airforce: "Welcome home 'Golden Arrows'. Blue skies always." There is no doubt that this first western combat aircraft to join the Indian Air Force 23 years after Sukhoi aircraft were imported, will prove to be a game changer.

This will certainly give a massive boost to the Indian Air Force. Armed forces are naturally in a great celebration mood. The arrival of first batch of five birds, particularly at a time when the red flag of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) threatens to go up, gives a booster shot to the Indian air power. At present, the Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKIs forms the backbone of IAF fighter fleet. Now with the addition of Rafale to the air power, India will have top of the line electronic warfare suite. Dhanoa, the chief architect of February 26 air strikes at Balakot has rightly said, "It is Meteor beyond visual range missile and SCALP air to ground weapon with its terrain following capability outguns any threat that the Chinese Air Force produces. He also felt that the Rafale and Su-30 MKI will be able to effectively counter the Chinese throw at India in the worst scenario. The threat from Chinese is mainly from their Surface to Air Missile Systems.

The Chinese have parked their fighter jets at Hotan Air Base and at Gonggar Air Base at Lhasa Airport. Some 70 Chinese aircrafts are without protection at Hotan and some 26 aircraft may be parked inside a tunnel which the PLA were building at Lhasa air base," the former top boss observed. The celebration mood of the Indian Air Force is understandable as in case of a dogfight between Rafale and F-16, Rafale has an edge since it can load more weapons than F-16s. It will not have to cross the Indian airspace to hit a target that is about 600 km in enemy territory. It can carry 9,500 kg of bombs and munitions. This is more than the Sukhoi 30 MK1, which can carry loads of up to 8,000kg.

The Rafale can carry the Meteor missile, a next-gen beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capable of hitting targets that are even 100km away with pinpoint accuracy. The other advantages it has is that it has multi-directional radar which can detect 40 targets at the same time in a range of over 100 kms and has Spectra, an integrated defence aid system which can jam or counter-jam enemy radar signals. Notably, Pakistan has the multi-role F-16 in its inventory which is comparable only to Mirage 2000. Pakistan has 32 F-16 and India is acquiring 36 Rafale in fly away condition for quick reaction deployment. Rafale is going to boost the IAF's capabilities. Referring to the threat from China, experts say it could be in the form of surface to air missile batteries and artillery guns which the PLA has packed in Aksai Chin. If there were no tree line, Chinese would become sitting ducks. So, the combination of Rafale and Su-30 MKI along with the BrahMos will be a gamechanger as these fighter jets will extensively enhance the attacking capabilities of the IAF.

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