The Indian Air Force (IAF) will formally take delivery of its first French-made Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft on September 19, according to reports.
The handover ceremony will be held at Dassault Aviation’s facility in Merignac in France and will be attended by Rajnath Singh, the Indian Defence Minister, and Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, IAF’s Chief of Air Staff.
In 2016, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition for $8.8 billion. Out of the 36 Rafales ordered for the IAF, 28 are single-seat jets, designated Rafale EH, and the remaining are dual-seat jets, designated Rafale DH.
The first batch of Rafale jets are scheduled to arrive in India in April-May next year and all the 36 jets ordered will arrive in the country by September 2022.
The first squadron of Rafales are likely to be stationed at Ambala Air Force Station, one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF around around 220 km from Indo-Pak border. Ambala’s future No. 17 Squadron “Golden Arrows” will have a final strength of 18 jets by 2022. The second squadron of 18 combat jets will be stationed at Hasimara AFS in West Bengal.
Dassault Rafale is a twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by French aircraft manufacturer, Dassault Aviation.
Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.
The aircraft is equipped with the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the OSF (optronique secteur frontal) infra-red search and track (IRST) system.
The Rafale carries a 30 mm GIAT 30 DEFA cannon and can be armed with SCALP EG cruise missiles, MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles and AM39 Exocet sea skimming anti-ship missiles. The ones used by French Air Force is capable of conducting nuclear strikes when armed with ASMP-A cruise missiles.
Rafales are currently operated by French Air Force, French Navy (carrier-capable version designated Rafale M), Egyptian Air Force and Qatar Emiri Air Force.