CHANDIGARH: The first squadron of Rafale combat jets is likely to be stationed at the Indian Air Force’s Ambala base, one of the most strategically located bases. Sources said teams from Dassault Aviation of France, the manufacturer of Rafale jets, had visited the Ambala base in Haryana in the recent past and reportedly finalised requirements for the first squadron of the jets.
The squadron to be deployed at Ambala will be known as Golden Arrows. It was originally based in Bhatinda and was disbanded two years ago. The second squadron of these combat jets will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal. The air force is doing the required infrastructure upgrade at the base.
In the Ambala base at present, there are two squadrons of the Jaguar combat aircraft and one squadron of the MiG-21 Bison.
All facilities to operate the Rafale squadron will be in place before the end of the year. Both Ambala and Hasimara bases will have simulator-based training facilities. The first batch of pilots who will fly these jets are presently being trained by Dassault Aviation in France. Eighteen Rafale jets each will be deployed in Ambala and Hasimara.
It is learnt that the Union government has sanctioned `220 crore for infrastructure upgrade. Around 14 hangars are being set up, apart from shelters and maintenance facilities. The upgrade is being done in a way that would ensure the infrastructure will last several years, said sources. In September last year, India signed a `59,000 crore (€7.87 billion) deal with the French government for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
The jets will come with India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet- mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording and infra-red search and tracking systems, among others.
These jets will have the capacity to hit targets inside Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while staying within Indian territory.