STORY: Chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshall Birender Singh Dhanoa while addressing a seminar in the Indian capital, New Delhi, on Wednesday (September 12), said that the Rafale fighter jets will significantly elevate India’s combat capabilities.
Air Chief Marshall Dhanoa added that the government’s orders to of the jets along with the S-400 missile systems from Russia will only strengthen the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The IAF currently has 31 fighter squadrons, which is well below the combined numbers of regional rivals, Pakistan and China.
India had originally awarded French company, Dassault, with an order for 126 Rafale jets in 2012 after the twin-engine fourth-generation fighter beat rivals in a decade-long selection process, but subsequent talks collapsed.
Modi, who has vowed to modernise India’s armed forces with a $150 billion spending spree, personally intervened in April 2015 to agree on the smaller order of 36 and give the air force a near-term boost as he weighed options for a more fundamental overhaul. The main opposition party of India, Congress, is accusing Prime Minister, Narendra Modi government of shady deal by buying lesser number of aircraft with more money. Modi government on the other hand has rubbished the claims.
The first ready-to-fly Rafales are expected to arrive by 2019 and India is set to have all 36 within six years.