Rafale Jets Are Going To Be A ‘Game – Changer’
A French-made Rafale fighter being welcomed with a water jet arch at the Indian Air Force base in Ambala on Sept 10, 2020
India’s Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh hailed the formal commissioning of the new French made Rafale jets as a “strong message” to its adversaries, amid escalating tension the LAC with China in Ladhak. Since 1962, the Chinese in addition to forcible occupation of Tibet, have also been in occupation of a part of Indian territory in Ladhak.
The first five of a Rs 66000 crores ( US$9.4 billion) package for 36 Rafale aircraft with additional items have formally entered service following a ceremony in Ambala in India.
“The induction of Rafale is a strong message for the world and especially for those who challenge India’s sovereignty,” Rajnath Singh tweeted, without mentioning China directly.
“Our country will not take any step to disturb peace anywhere. We expect the same from our neighbors,” Mr Singh added.
Earlier this week, the outmaneuvered Chinese fired shots on the Himalayan LAC near the Indo Tibetan Border with India, after a medieval-style battle in June that saw 20 Indians killed and more than 40 Chinese.
India and China’s foreign ministers were due to meet in Moscow later on Thursday in a bid to cool tensions between the world’s two most-populous nations.
Since the deadly June 15th clash in Galwan Valley, – which also resulted in over 90 number of Chinese casualties – both sides have sent tens of thousands of extra troops to the mountainous region where the Indo Tibetan Border has never been demarcated. Historically India has had no borders with China in this area but only with Tibet.
Even before relations with China nosedived, USA was already trying to move strategically closer to India by deepening its security cooperation. The United States, Japan and Australia all want India to get involved in in the Asia-Pacific region.
India had already embarked on a massive Rs 910000crores ( US$130 billion ) modernisation of its armed forces – including ordering Appache attack helicopters from the United States and the S400 missile defence system from Russia. India has also started fielding its own modern air defence missile systems, 4.5 generation Tejas fighter aircrafts, artillery medium guns etc.
The new French jets are big morale booster for the country’s defence forces and by 2022 two Squadrons should be operational. They will certainly be a game changer in combination with other Indian fighters. It is also most likely soon India may be placing orders for two to four more squadrons of these fighters as India’s own Advanced 5th generation Medium Combat jets are still a few years away.
However even the two squadrons of Rafales are going to make China wary because to face them effectively, Chinese will need to deploy a minimum of 10 Squadrons of their much touted J20 on the Tibetan Plateau.