The Indian Air Force (IAF) will induct its second squadron of the Rafale fighter jets in mid-April in West Bengal. The fighter jets, they said, would be inducted at the Hasimara Air Force Station in Alipurduar district of the eastern state.
India’s first Rafale squadron, comprising five jets, was inducted into the IAF on September 10 last year after being flown to the country from France in July.
The second batch of three Rafale jets arrived in India on November 3, while the third batch of three more jets joined the IAF on January 27.
The fighters are a part of the ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron and based at the Ambala Air Force station.
By the time the second squadron gets operationalised, the Indian Air Force would have more than 20 Rafale fighter jets.
In 2016, India signed a deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France for an estimated $8.7 billion. The jets are set to be handed over to India within the next few years.
With two squadrons complete in the next one year, the IAF’s depleting fleet strength will get a push. These two squadrons with 18 jets each at Amabala and Hasimara have been planned keeping in mind the operations against Pakistan on the western front and China in the eastern sector.
Hasimara earlier had a MiG 27 squadron that has now been decommissioned.
Hasimara’s is a strategic base for Air Force operations as its close to Bhutan. The Chumbi Valley where lies a tri-junction between India-Bhutan and China is close to Doklam where a standoff took place in 2017.
In case of an attack by China thrusting to cut off India’s north region by targeting the Siliguri corridor Hasimara would be the crucial air base for a a counter attack.
The Rafale is considered an omni role aircraft, which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie simultaneously.
The rafale is battle-hardened and has been used in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, and armed with potent weapon package the fighter jet is lethal.
If the need be Rafale can also be nuclear enabled making it more lethal.
The fighter jet is armed with potent meteor and scalp missiles that will enhance air strike capabilities and air dominance of the Indian Air Force.
The meteor is a beyond visual range air to air missile and Scalp is a long-range cruise missile that can be launched from the aircraft for deep strikes to hit fixed and stationary targets.