The year 2020 can be marked as an year that has cast a ‘pall of gloom’ on the entire globe with COVID-19 taking human lives, the massive explosion in Beirut, India-China tussle and many more such tragic events.
But today, the induction of much awaited Dassault Rafale fighter jets into the Indian Air Force (IAF) has struck some positive chords for both India and France.
The induction ceremony started with traditional ‘Sarva Dharma Puja’ at Ambala Air Base in the presence of Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister, Government of India, Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, France and other top dignitaries such as Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar etc. Puja was performed by Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh priests which was followed by a speech by the CDS greeting both the defence ministers of India and France. Parly was given a Guard of Honour upon her arrival in Delhi.
The ceremony, described as a “very important milestone” by an IAF spokesperson, is the first induction of a new type of foreign-origin fighter jets by IAF since a batch of the Sukhois were delivered in the late 1990s.
Rafale is referred to as a multi-role combat aircraft which can perform various operations such as close air support, in-depth strike, dog fight etc. Speaking on the occasion, RKS Bhadauria stated, “This is a new chapter for IAF. This induction could not have happened at a more opportune time considering the security situation today. This ceremony also marks the operational induction of this aircraft into the Indian Air Force. I have no doubt that the ‘Golden Arrows’ (17 Squadron) can dominate whenever and wherever deployed.”
The induction ceremony also witnessed the participation of IAF’s other fighters such as LCA Tejas, Jaguars, Sukhoi Su-30 MKIs, Sarang Aerobatic team etc. showing their air maneuvers while flying alongside Rafales.
Calling the Rafale deal a ‘Game Changer’, Rajnath Singh stated, “I am confident that induction of Rafales will revolutionise the Indian Air Force’s capabilities. With changing times, we need to stay prepared. National security remains a priority for this government.”
The Indian Rafale
The Indian Rafale is a 4.5 Generation aircraft which can fly with almost double the speed of sound, with top speed of 1.8 Mach. With an elaborated combat experience of performing various tactical operations in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali, Rafale certainly has an upper hand over the Chinese J20 which is termed as 5th Generation fighter with no combat experience. Rafales were also been used for missions in Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria. It can also carry more fuel and weapons than the J20.