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Saturday, August 1, 2020

India is elated ! ~ Rafale has arrived !! - lands at Ambala

Today 29th July 2020 is a day worthy of celebration.  I know nothing yet am writing something because I want to celebrate this occasion.  When Kapil lifted WC in 1983, every Indian spoke about Cricket –( the analogy may not be the most appropriate ) – but today is a Golden day, when every Indian will proudly talk about our Air power – the arrival of Rafale Jet.

An unusual commitment of the IAF was to support United Nations operations on the Congo (now Zaire) in 1961-62. Following an appeal by the U.N. for both troops and combat aircraft to restore law and order and keep peace, six Canberra B(1) 58s of No.5 Squadron were flown from Agra to Central Africa. Operating from Leopoldville and Kamina, the Canberras soon destroyed the rebel air force, raided Katangan targets and generally provided the U.N. ground forces with its only long-range air support force.  The Indian Air Force was officially established on 8 October 1932. Its first ac flight came into being on 01 Apr 1933. It possessed a strength of six RAF-trained officers and 19 Havai Sepoys (literally, air soldiers). ~ it has come a long long way since !! 

Today the Country was in jubilation.  The first batch of Rafale fighter jets that took off from France on Monday  landed at the Ambala airbase today giving the country's air power a strategic edge over its adversaries in the neighbourhood. Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Air Command, Air Marshal B Suresh & Air Officer Commanding Air Force Station Ambala along with the pilots of the first Rafale aircraft posed happily in front of the fighter jets  at Ambala airbase today.

The five Rafale fighter jets that landed in Ambala on Wednesday morning will resurrect the Number 17 Golden Arrows squadron of the Indian Air Force. It will take the IAF’s squadron strength to 31. When all the 36 Rafale jets are delivered by 2022, it will take it to 32 squadrons.  The state-of-the-art 4.5 Generation Rafale jet can reach almost double the speed of sound, with a top speed of 1.8 Mach. With its multi-role capabilities, including electronic warfare, air defence, ground support and in-depth strikes, the Rafale lends air superiority to the Indian Air Force.

Each aircraft has 14 storage stations for weapons. The jets come with one of the most advanced Meteor air-to-air missiles. The 190-kg missile has a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) of over 100 km, traveling at a top speed of Mach 4. The F16 jets, used by Pakistan, carry the AMRAAM missile, which has a BVR of 75 km. Rafale can also outperform F16 in dogfights. The Rafale jets also come with SCALP, the air-to-ground cruise missile with a range over 300 km. It is a long-range deep strike missile. The MICA air-to-air missile on Rafale is for both, close-quarter dogfights, and for BVR. At the last-minute, India has also asked for HAMMER (Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range), which is an air-to-ground precision guided missile produced by French conglomerate Safran, and can be used against bunker-type hardened targets within the range of 70 km.

The Dassault Rafale (literally meaning "gust of wind" and "burst of fire") is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an "omnirole" aircraft by Dassault. In the late 1970s, the French Air Force and French Navy were seeking to replace and consolidate their current fleets of aircraft. The Rafale is distinct from other European fighters of its era in that it is almost entirely built by one country, involving most of France's major defence contractors, such as Dassault, Thales and Safran.

Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries, and was selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force. The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria.

The Indian Air Force was officially established on 8 October 1932.  Four-and-a-half years later, "A" Flight was in action for the first time from Miranshah, in North Waziristan, to support Indian Army operations against insurgent Bhittani tribesmen. Meanwhile, in April 1936, a "B" Flight had also been formed on the vintage Wapiti. But, it was not until June 1938 that a "C" Flight was raised to bring No. 1 Squadron ostensibly to full strength, and this remained the sole IAF formation when World War II began, although personnel strength had by now risen to 16 officers and 662 men.

Before concluding, reading this too .. .. the Rafale deal controversy raised by some immature politicians was delivered a sound death-knell by the Apex Court on 14.11.2019 [Children’s day].  The Supreme Court  dismissed all the petitions seeking a review of its Dec 2018 judgement and upheld the Rafale deal, stating that no irregularities or corruption have been found.  The timeline in brief is :
2007: The UPA government releases tenders for 126 fighters, based on the demand by the Indian Air Force.
January 2012: French company, Dassault Aviation makes the lowest bids for their aircraft Rafale. According to conditions, 126 jets required, of which 18 to be imported in fly-away condition. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) supposed to manufacture the remaining 108 jets with assistance from Dassault.
2014: HAL and Dassault sign an agreement. Negotiations carried out however the deal was not finalised.
June 2015: Defence ministry officially withdraws the 126 aircraft deal tender.
April 2015: Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Paris and announces the decision to buy 36 Rafale fighters.

Now you will understand the reasons for jubilation ~ yes Rafale fighter jets have arrived in Ambala.  Jai Hind ! ~ Jai Jawan !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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