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Rafale fighters to take off from France tomorrow, can be operational within a week

While operational deployment usually takes six months, due to these 'extraordinary circumstances' the fighters will be ready to be deployed within a week.

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New Delhi: At least five Rafale fighter aircraft will take off from Merignac in France Monday to arrive in India Wednesday and, if required, these aircraft can also be operationally deployed within a week amid the India-China standoff in Ladakh, ThePrint has learnt.

According to sources in the defence and security establishment, a total of 12 Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots have been fully trained on the fighter aircraft, which is considered a game-changer in the region with its unmatched fire power.

Several other pilots are completing their training in France — the contract stipulates that a total of 36 pilots will be trained by French authorities, including those who will undergo training in India.

While, in an official statement, the IAF had said that five aircraft will land Wednesday, as reported by ThePrint on 29 June, the figure could be six.

The exact number of aircraft that will take off will be known only on Monday. The IAF has said that five would land on July 29 in India but this number could even be six,” a source said.

According to the contract signed in September 2016, 12 aircraft are supposed to be delivered every year.

French defence major Dassault Aviation, which is manufacturing the Rafale jets, had since October last year handed over a total of nine aircraft to the IAF. The 10th is undergoing acceptance trials by IAF pilots in France.

The source also added that the aircraft can be operationally deployed, if needed, “within a week”.

Under normal circumstances, it takes at least six months for full operational deployment.

However, according to a source, these are “extraordinary times”.

“The pilots have been on training mode till now. They now need to be in combat mode which takes time because they have to get used to the aircraft with multiple combat training flying. However, extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. If need be, the aircraft can be operationally deployed within a week of arriving or actually the same day itself. But that is if need be,” he said.

Also read: IAF to induct 5 Rafale fighters on 29 July in Ambala, their first mission could be in Ladakh

The flying plan: From France to India

According to the plan, the Rafale fighters will take off from Merignac, where the production facility of Dassault Aviation is located.

They will fly straight to the French airbase in Al Dhafra near Abu Dhabi in the UAE for a night halt.

This would be a 10-hour-long journey and these fighters would be accompanied by two mid-air refuelers of the French Air Force.

Sources noted that there would be two rounds of refueling mid-air, to complete the journey.

They added that the pilots have undergone specialised training for mid-air refueling through the Airbus 330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft that the French use.

This was not originally part of the training module since the IAF uses the Russian aircraft IL-78 for mid-air refueling.

While the distance to the UAE can be covered by the Rafale in much shorter time, they will have to keep pace with the tankers.

After the night halt, the jets will take off for Ambala in Haryana, where the IAF’s 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’ — home of the first Squadron of Rafale fighters — is based.

Initially, the aircraft were scheduled to arrive after layovers in multiple countries. However, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, this meant that the pilots would have to be quarantined at every base.

Furthermore, the increasing border tensions with China meant that the IAF could not wait for the fighters to be delayed.

Also read: Manohar Parrikar had Rafale file all memorised, blamed Jaitley for delaying OROP: New book

Missiles aboard Rafale aircraft

India had approached France to expedite the delivery of the Rafale fighters, in light of the border tensions. The weapon system was initially scheduled to arrive only in October this year.

The French government then diverted an initial lot of cutting edge missiles meant for its own air force to India.

The missiles, which have already arrived at the Ambala base, include the Meteor air to air missile, manufactured by European firm MBDA.

The Meteor costs about Rs 20 crore each, and is a very long-range rocket and ram-jet powered air-to-air missile. With a range of about 150 km, the missile can attack an enemy aircraft without even crossing the Indian air space.

Neither China nor Pakistan has a missile to counter this capability of the IAF.

Another key missile on board is the 1,300 kg and the 5.1 metre-long Scalp, which can be carried in either one missile or two missiles configuration on the Rafale.

The air-to-ground missile costs about Rs 40 crore each and is also manufactured by the MBDA. It has a 600-km range and is known for its precision.

The Rafale will not have to cross the Indian airspace to hit a target that is about 600 km in enemy territory and can be used in penetration, impact or airburst modes.

It is meant to strike deep even in areas with limited access and in an area denial scenario — which is meant to prevent the adversary from entering one’s territory.

Considering the situation in Ladakh with China, the IAF has also directed emergency procurement of the HAMMER air-to-ground missile with a range of about 60 Kms.

The original plan was to integrate the Israeli Spice 2000 with the Rafale aircraft but with the focus on early operational deployment of Rafale in mind, a decision was taken to buy the HAMMER, which the Rafale is already configured to fire.

The other missile that the Rafale would be carrying is the air-to-air MICA that have also been deployed on the Mirage 2000.

Also read: For quick deployment of Rafale, IAF opts for HAMMER weapon system, not Israeli Spice 2000


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  1. Let me get this right; 5 jets and 5 pilots are going to cower the Chinese Air Force? Reality comes quick for this type of mindset.

  2. Despite these all toys India can not and must not succeed in their dongler myth. They don’t have moral . They can buy rather fritter than Rafael toy. Pilot don’t have ball to fight the enemy. As simple as this. It might be upset things. This is what it is.

  3. Whats all the fuss about rafele its only 5 planes just because india bought them thats why they are unmatched.
    Chinese have more powerful planes than rafele do not be deceived just by 5 planes thats nothing compared to china and Aksai the chinese are there allready so it will be dificult now the chinese have india surrounded.
    Modi has said nothing he telling his people no one has entered in idias terorory which is a plain lie the chinese have entered india 8 km in India and they are not moving…
    All this is happening because of Modys policys…….lets see what happens because of mass spread of covid 19 in India, India is in no possition to fight they have aged fighter planes yet they think 5 Rafeles would make India win the war if it ever happened lets hope it will never happen.
    Really is a joke if you hear on Indian channels what they say about Rafeles hahaha……?

  4. Let’s not count the chickens before they are hatched. 5 rafales is not much for a huge fighting force. They become effective only when available in squadron strength and after all consumables, spares, weapons and protective concrete pens are in place. The enormous hype around Rafale is raising false expectations in the public and a strong dose of realism is needed now. Such a big fuss was never made when frontline planes like the MIG 29 or Sukhoi were inducted. We are still 3 years away from really considering the Rafale as a strike force.

  5. I have taken the screenshot already of my comment under so called moderation. If you delete that I will expose you in social media for what you are – An anti India website!

  6. You cannot conceal your anti-national and anti-Hindu character with this piece on Rafael as diverting tactics!

  7. I think India must have good relations with China and Pakistan for long term goals … Talks can solve the issue and entering bilateral agreements India can buy weapons from China itself that will be more cheaper and cost effective. India China and Pakistan can do miracle together by taking over almost all trade of the world making US and western world suffer.
    Remember these nations were colonies of UK in last century itself. Now colonial masters are trying to ensure that these nations must fight always . Now leadership needs to take decision as per need of time

    • My dear it’s high time to think over it you mentioned. Pakistan and India both are being used by others directly or indirectly to safeguard their(others) interests. Just think how western countries including USA are using India against China and Pakistan without being coming face to face. USA is instigating India against China and once war b/w there two Asian begins no one will come to stop rather than fueling. The West very well knew and know that if these trika come together it can change the world economically, and militarily as well. It was the Western evil minds that left many issues unresolved while getting out of South Asia so that Asians always engage in these issues rather than challenging their monopoly over the world.


  8. Why so much fuss is made of only 5 planes coming .
    If the Government had honoured the UPA order we would have got more than 50planes at only half the price.

    • Unfortunately there was no order from the UPA. Antony withdrew saying that they don’t have funds that year. ( 2013). He was actually worried that Rafale was mistakenly given the lowest price position and wanted to save his reputation.

  9. I agree with florimundo saldahna. Yes we should take action & i believe that entire India will back this decision. But its our bad luck that except Indira Gandhi we do not have leadership to take this decision of invading Tibet & taking over Aksai chin back from chinese.

    • Indira acted against a non nuclear State ( Pakistan) which was much weaker than India at the time. .
      The entire picture has now changed and this is not 1971. CHina is 3 times our strength and Pak is also our equal in nuclear power. India needs to be tough at the right time but use other levers also. A purely military victory is out of the question.

    • Despite these all toys India can not and must not succeed in their dongler myth. They don’t have moral . They can buy rather fritter than Rafael toy. Pilot don’t have ball to fight the enemy. As simple as this. It might be upset things. This is what it is.

    • Then you should hire French Air Force to do your jobs and dump IAF and it’s coward pilots like Abhi-non-done.

      • avinandan not what you say 🤣🤣🤣🤣 lamo ,. And yeaaaa pakistani f16 shoot down a old generation mirage 2000. Yeaaa it is real achivement for pakistan lol😂😂😂😂😂

  10. Indian Army should directly enter Tibet & take over Aksai Chin as well, to create a diversion from current status; after all it’s our territory. This should create sudden Chinese panic amidst their internal flooding issues. It’s NOW or Never

  11. It’s a shame that you are so talkative about the performance of the aircraft and its equipment. One wonders what is the aim pursued by the display of these details?

    • Himavat, these would be available in most open source locations. They’ve not divuldged operational details.

      If a country wants complete secrecy over its armaments it should make them, which hopefully India will, in a few years.

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