By Air Marshal Anil Chopra (Retd)
(By Arrangement with India Strategic)
NEW DELHI, July 31, 2020: IAF has already conveyed that the pilots are already fully trained and ready for any designated operational roles although a few days or weeks should be ideal for the pilots who flew the aircraft to India or have otherwise arrived after training in multirole operations both on simulators and onboard aircraft on simulated war conditions. Weapons for the weapons for the aircraft are already in India, and can be loaded swiftly as the software integration is preprogrammed for typically IAF requirements. The airbase infrastructure is operational and so are the technical facilities and administrative arrangements.
Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Western Air Command C-in-C Air Marshal B Suresh welcomed the aircraft, led by Gp Capt Harkirat Singh, the Commanding Officer (CO) of the resurrected Golden Arrows Squadron 17.
Four pilots flew two twin seater Rafales, and three others the three single seaters. The aircraft were looked after by the French Air Force Armee de l’air up to UAE’s Al Dhafra airbase, and after that by IAF’s Su 30 MKIs. Midair refuelling was conducted on the France-UAE and UAE-India flights.
Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale can perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, deep ground strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault. The class and range of the AESA radar, IRST, avionics, fused data, stealth features, SPECTRA protection suit, and most importantly the weapons put it in a different class both on western and northern borders.
The Rafale is likely to maintain high availability and mission success rate.
The Rafale, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, will be a game changer in the region on many counts.
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Note: The Author has been a pioneer of Mirage 2000 fleet and has watched the induction and operationalisation of a French fighter fleet closely.