First batch of Rafales take off from France, to touch base in India on July 29
New Delhi, July 27: The first batch of Rafale jets took off from France and are set to land in Indian on July 29.
The fighter jets will officially join the Indian Air Force fleet in Haryana's Ambala. The aircraft will have to travel 7,000 kilometres to reach India, with a stop over at UAE's Dharfa Air Base. Reports say that there will be air-to-air refuelling.
According to the original delivery schedule the first four Rafales were to reach Ambala y May this year. All the 36 fighter aircraft were scheduled to be delivered by April 2022. The delivery of the first batch got delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. India has now sought for the delivery given the heightened tensions with China.
The Indian Air Force's capability has been ramped up immensely, with the induction of the C-17 Globemaster Super Hercules and the CH-47 Chinook. The Indian Army's strike formations are now spearheaded by the T-90 tanks.
"Beauty and the Beast"- #Rafale Fighter Aircraft. Ready to take off @MEAIndia @JawedAshraf5 @gouvernementFR @Dassault_OnAir @rajnathsingh @DefenceMinIndia @DDNewslive @ANI @DrSJaishankar @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/TTAi6DHun7— India in France (@Indian_Embassy) July 27, 2020
Airlifting the T-90s was an important aspect for the IAF. The 46 tonne tanks is very crucial to the Indian Army as it faces the Chinese deployments, which also include a mix of both heavy and light tanks.
Rafale left France 🇫🇷 for 🇮🇳 India pic.twitter.com/5U2D8df8wX— Aviator Anil Chopra (@Chopsyturvey) July 27, 2020
Airlifting the T-90 tank was possible only due to C-17, which has a payload capacity of 77 tonnes. The C-17 have come in handy because the Il-76 could airlift only 45 tonnes, while the weight of the T-90 is 46 tonnes. The C-17s have been in service since 2013 and there are 11 of them.
The Indian Army had three regiments of the older T-72 tanks, which weigh around 40 tonnes. Earlier, the IL-76 would airlift the T-72s and this is an exercise that has been going on since the 1990s.
Since tank transporters can only be used on some road stretches within Ladakh, it was not practical to negotiate the high mountain passes and narrow stretches that lie on the road link from the mainland to Ladakh.
The IAF's capability was also enhanced with the procurement of 15 Chinooks. This has in fact enhanced the round the clock and all weather capability, especially in the mountains, where manoeuvrability is a major issue.