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With Rafales touching down, IAF looks to raise squadron strength from 31 to 42

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New Delhi, July 30: It was a proud moment for India, when the first lot of Rafale fighter jets touched down at Ambala on Wednesday.

    Rafale: First batch of 5 Fighter Jets land at Ambala airbase after covering nearly 7,000 Km|OneIndia

    Specifications and performance data of Rafale fighter jets

    The five jets are part of the 36 ordered from Dassault Aviation of France. While this marks a major increase in terms of air power, the Indian Air Force is looking to build its strength to a 42 fighter jet squadron ie is 18 jets in each.

    With Rafales touching down, IAF looks to raise squadron strength from 31 to 42

    Currently, there are 31 squadrons and this includes five with MiG-21s and the assessment is that there is a need for 42 squadrons in order to tackle a two-front war with Pakistan and China simultaneously. The next few years would be crucial as the remaining 31 Rafales will be delivered.

    In addition to this, the 20 LCA Tejas will be inducted into the existing fleet of 20 Tejas fighters. India has also gone back to Russia to order and additional 33 fighter jets, which would include 21 MiG 29. This would add to the existing fleet of 59 jets.

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    India is also buying 12 Sukhoi 30 MKI. Beside the Tejas and Rafale, the IAF is also looking for 230 other jets. This would be made good by the 83 Tejas Mark1A fighters, which is set to come with 43 improvements over the existing Tejas.

    Further, the Indian Air Force would also look to procure 114 fighter jets under the strategic partnership model. Lockheed Martin's F-21, Boeing's F/A-18IN, Eurofighter Typhoon, French Dassault's Rafale, Swedish Saab's Gripen and Russian MiG-35 and Sukhoi 35 are in the tender race.

    On Wednesday two Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets escorted 5 Rafales into India. At Ambala, upon landing the Rafales got a water cannon salute. These jets will be inducted into the No. 17 squadron-The Golden Arrows. The remaining 31 Rafales will arrive by 2023.

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