NEW DELHI: Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Tuesday said the Indian Air Force (IAF) is proud to have acquired Dassault Rafale combat aircrafts after hectic negotiations between the Indian and French governments, describing the jets as leading combat aircraft of the current generation.
Briefing media ahead of the 84th anniversary of the founding of the IAF, Air Chief Marshal Raha said, “Any Air Force will be proud to have an aircraft with a Rafale class, which is in the mid-weight category, if you take it weight wise. But in terms of its weapons capability form of long-range are missiles Beyond Visual Range (BVR), air to ground standard weapons of very large ranges, hits avionics, its instrumentation, its electronic warfare are exceptional.”
“And, I think, it is the leading fighter aircraft in the current generation and we are proud that this contract has been signed and we will be getting this aircraft in the next three to five and a half years time,” he added.
The Dassault Rafale fighter jets will come equipped with state-of-the-art missiles such as the Meteor and Scalp. The Meteor is a BVR air-to-air missile, with a range in excess of 150 km.
He further said, “We all know that the Jaguar aircraft engine has to be changed because of certain drawbacks and the problems we have been facing with the current engine, it is slightly under power, and obviously, to exploit this aircraft in the next 15-20 years, for which we have plans and are upgrading the aircraft with better weapons, weapon attack systems. Obviously, we have to make sure that we have a proper engine and that’s how this re-engining process started.”
Air Chief Marshal Raha further said that they would like to have more Rafale fighter jets, but added that this decision would be taken in the future.
On the fighter jet fleet purchase of the 36 Dassault Rafale jets from France, he said there is a plan to make fighter jets in India. The Light Combat Aircraft, The Tejas, would be inducted in big numbers (106 of them, including the upgraded version).
Also, the IAF plans to upgrade the Sukhoi 30 MKI--IAF lead fighter jet that is based at Halwara in Punjab and Sirsa in Haryana, among other bases in the country, he said.
The IAF has 33 fighter squadrons as against the 42 needed to tackle a simultaneous two-front war with Pakistan and China, he added.
However, he refused to answer any questions on the recent surgical strike on terrorist camps across the Line of Control, describing it as a “sensitive issue”.