NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court judgment on the Rafale fighter jet deal is a shot in the arm for the Indian Air Force, as it will strengthen its arsenal. The top court said the necessity to upgrade the strategic needs of the country’s armed forces was felt in the post-Kargil war days and it resulted in Request for Proposal (RFP) for procurement of 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircrafts .
The delivery of the Rafale aircraft will begin next year with the first two Rafale jets set to fl into India in September. The rest will arrive by 2022. Thirty-six fully-weaponised Rafale jets are being imported in a flyway condition.The 36 jets will form two squadrons — comprising 18 each — with one being raised at Ambala, Punjab, and the other in Hasimara, West Bengal. While the Ambala Squadron will look after the Western Borders, the one in Hasimara will be committed for operations in Northern Borders.
Air Commodore Trilok Chand, Senior Fellow, Centre for Joint Warfare Studies said, “Rafale jets are important. At present, the Air Force is down to 32 and a half squadrons against theapproved 42.” Each IAF squadron consists of 16 to 18 aircraft.
China is improving its infrastructure in the Tibetan Autonomous Region with the induction of modern JF 17s. Pakistan has also modernised it F-16s. But, the Indian Air Force still has the MiG aircraft, inducted in the 1960s. The modern fighters with the Air Force are the fourth generation SU 30 MKI. The other fighters are the Jaguars, Mirages, MiG 29s.IAF has issued a ‘Request for Information’ (RFI) for additional 114 fighter aircraft which will be made in India with a strategic partner to be selected later. Indigenously developed Tejas is also being inducted into the force.