NEW DELHI – According to Reuters, the Indian Air Force will induct the French Dassault Rafale combat jet in September of this year, the chief of the Indian Air Force – B.S. Dhanoa – said earlier today.
India has ordered 36 planes from Dassault Aviation as part of a modernization program of the Air Force which is phasing out its old Soviet-era planes, like the MIG-21 and MIG-27.
On 10 April 2015, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris, it was announced that India would buy 36 Dassault Rafales in fly-away condition. The deal was finalised in November 2015. However, it got stalled for a considerable amount of time in terms of price negotiation. Finally, the deadlock has been resolved.
On 23 September 2016, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian signed the contract for the purchase of 36 Rafales in a deal worth 7.8 billion Euros. The first Rafale warplanes are slated to be delivered roughly within three years of the signing of the deal. The first aircraft will be delivered to the IAF in 2019, with the full complement of aircraft to be delivered by 2022.
The Dassault ‘Rafale’ (literally meaning “gust of wind”, and “burst of fire” in a more military sense) is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. The Rafale is a very fast and agile fighter jet. It has a max. speed of Mach 1.7 (1,324 mph or 2.130 kph), can fly up to 59,000 ft (18.000 km) high, and can reach a distance of 680 miles (1.095 km).
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.
Many of the aircraft’s avionics and features, such as direct voice input, the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the optronique secteur frontal infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor, were domestically developed and produced for the Rafale programme. Originally scheduled to enter service in 1996, the Rafale suffered significant delays due to post-Cold War budget cuts and changes in priorities. The aircraft is available in three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version, and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version.
The Rafale flew for the first time in 1986 and was introduced in 2001. It’s being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries, and was selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force. The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. Several upgrades to the weapons and avionics of the Rafale were introduced in 2018.