IAF’s Inventory of Rafale Rises to 23, 3 More Rafale Jets Land in India from France

Indian Air Force

New Delhi: At the Ambala airbase on May 27, another batch of three Rafale fighter jets landed, taking the total number of Rafales in the Indian Air Force (IAF) inventory to 23. According to sources, four aircraft were supposed to take off from Merignac-Bordeaux airbase in France on May 20, but only three could because of the unavailability of more mid-air refuellers in the UAE.

The IAF is all set to resurrect the 101 “Falcons of Chamb” squadron at Hashimara in West Bengal. It is expected that the full deliveries of 36 Rafale aircraft will be completed well before April 2022 as announced by Union defence minister Rajnath Singh in Parliament.

With India likely to buy more front-line fighters to complete the stalled requirement of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), the French have not only offered hot engine technology to India but are also willing to jointly develop extended range and capability Hammer air-to-ground missile under the Atmanirbhar Bharat route. French engine manufacturer Safran has already conveyed the offer for jointly developing aircraft engines up to 100 Kilo Newton thrust as well as share the hot engine technology which Indian allies in the west are reluctant to share.

France has also offered to share and jointly develop technology for longer range and heavier Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range (Hammer) missile which is currently part of the weapons package on the Indian Rafale. With a range of over 70 kilometres, the Hammer weapon can be guided on to the target using GPS, Inertial Navigation and Infra-red seeker with the capability to adjust to target location mid-air using maps for course correction. The latest version of this weapon has a 1,000 kilogram bomb and with laser guidance technology. India ordered 36 warplanes from France (equivalent of two squadrons) in 2016 under a government-to-government deal.