India’s eagerly awaited Rafale Fighter Jets have landed at the Ambala Airforce Base. The five French made fighter jets largely viewed as game changer will be inducted in the No. 17 Squadron, ” Golden Arrows “. India has drawn the agreement to buy 36 Rafale Jets from France. That these jets will add to our strength and play a critical role at this critical moment in the history of our nation facing threats from China, Nepal, and Pakistan is not a matter of doubt.
It also is a fulfilment of our long standing need and desire to acquire enhanced air defence capabilities to meet the challenges of the new age. India is also engaged in agreements with Russia in the purchase and procurement of MiG and Sukhoi new generation medium range modular air-to-ground weapon system Hammer to integrate with the Rafale jets. From 1961 (MiG) to 2020 (Rafale) is a long way in combat jets additions for India.
Several of our obsolete jets have been removed from use simultaneously. It is also, however, not certain whether the Sukhoi jets can match the strength of Chinese jets in combat. Hence, the arrival of these Rafale jets as our first step is a highly satisfying measure.
Indian Defence experts believe that these jets are more sophisticated, modern, and performance heavy compared to those held by China and Pakistan. The performance of Rafale jets in the wars of Afghanistan, Mali, Syria, Iraq, and Libya has been a matter causing fear and insecurity in the minds of opponents. At the same time it is also felt that these five jets may not be enough against China if a war erupts.
That India has lagged behind in strengthening the forces with advanced aircrafts and equipments in the last 25 years is a well acknowledged fact. Efforts to strengthen the capabilities of the defence forces have faced setbacks due to accusations and scams in the past. The present purchase/procurement of Rafale jets is a process initiated in 2007 coming to fruition 13 years later. Initial discussions related to the purchase of 126 jets have been skittled down to 36 ultimately. The agreement for the 36 was signed by our PM during his visit to France in 2015. Five years have passed since then. We have received five jets now.
Rafale jet is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, and nuclear deterrence missions. It is an “Omnirole” aircraft from Dassault Aviation. Each aircraft can carry payloads of 10000 kg. The aircraft will require air-to-air refuelling. Indian pilots and technicians underwent more than a year long training already by Dassault Aviation with the participation of the French Air Force. Delivery of Rafale jets despite the COVID-19 pandemic is viewed as proof of Dassault Aviation’s commitment to delivery schedule.
Purchase/procurement for defence capabilities is not a simple matter of ‘retail’ transaction. It involves : (a) Careful evaluation of the jet ; (b) Following procedures, rules, and guidelines of acquisition ; (c) Drawing up the timeline for the process of manufacturing and delivery ; (d) Avoiding middlemen and other unexpected delays ; and (e) all necessary follow up for delivery. What is needed is a clear political resolve; a clear far-sighted decision; and a clear plan to fulfill the need – all top skills to great leadership in management parlance.
Technologically and in terms of plans, armaments, and equipments our Air Force has been in need of modernisation for a long time. Struck with obsolescence it is a yearning desire to enrich itself soon for the safety and security of the nation. Tejas light fighters are simple as compared to other foreign made fighter jets. The upgraded form of Jaguar SEPECAT (about 100+) are also old. When India procured it there was international amusement virtually. Conditions have changed now with fresh enthusiasm and vigor in our approach to be combat competent with major powers.
Interesting to note is the observation from the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs in Harvard Kennedy School which says that India’s Air Force is more powerful than China’s. Mirage 2000, Sukhoi 30, and now Rafale gives India an edge over China’s J10, J11, and SU27 fighter jets.
Indian Air Force should have 42 Squadrons each with 16 to 18 fighter aircrafts in the normal circumstances. But, it has only 27 Squadrons now. Pakistan is aiming to increase its Squadrons to 25 within a year. It is against this background that doubts regarding the completeness of our full need being met with all 36 Rafale jets are now expressed in some quarters.
Not focusing on the enhanced capabilities of defence forces by the past Governments has been viewed as a serious weakness. This lack of concern was primarily due to the raised levels of caution after the Bofors deal was perceived as a major scam. Other contributing factors are : (1) Lean budgets for Defence ; and (2) Increased retirement benefits.
Rising instances of border security challenges in the recent years have created a rude awakening now. We can no longer afford to stay calm under pressure or when violence takes hold. We are hard pushed to face our enemies with resolve and determination proving ourselves powerful and effective.
Rafale jets purchase is a clear move intended to strengthen our position as a major defence force.
” RAFALE MARKS A TURNING POINT TO MAKE INDIA AS A DEFENCE POWERHOUSE “
” Dieu avec nous “
Friday, July 31, 2020 – 6. 19 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” Never, never be afraid to do what is right, especially if the well being of human is at stake ” – Martin Luther King Jr.