The first batch of long-awaited five Rafale fighter jets recently arrived in India and was inducted at the Indian Air Force’s Ambala airbase. The fighter jets, manufactured by France-based Dassault Aviation, are twin-engine multi-role fighter aircraft. These are nuclear capable and can engage in both air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks. With the arrival of the Rafale, the IAF’s firepower is set to increase multifold.
As India celebrate its 74th Independence Day, we look at all the active fighter jets used by the Indian Air Force, from Sukhoi Su-30MKI to the Tejas LCA and now, the Rafale.
India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons and missiles and the first squadron of the aircraft will be deployed at Ambala air force station, considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF. The Indo-Pak border is around 220 km from there. The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal. The Rafale is a modern fighter jet known for its agility, speed, weapon holding capacity and attack capability. The Dassault Rafale has a delta wing design and is capable of g-forces as high as 11g (in case of emergency). The Rafale is available in both single and dual seating cabin (India ordered 28 single and 8 dual seater Rafale).
The Mirage-2000 is undoubtedly one of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) most versatile and deadliest aircraft and it was first commissioned in 1985. Soon after inducting the Mirage, IAF gave it the name – Vajra – meaning lightning thunderbolt in Sanskrit. The Mirage-2000 is developed by Dassault Aviation and took its first flight in 1978 and was inducted in the French Air Force in 1984. India placed an initial order of 36 single-seater Mirage-2000 and 4 twin-seater Mirage 2000 in 1982 as an answer to Pakistan buying the US-made F-16 fighter jets by Lockheed Martin. The Mirage-2000 played a decisive role in the 1999 war of Kargil and seeing the success of the jets, the government in India placed an additional order of 10 Mirage-2000 planes in 2004, taking the total tally to 50 jets.
HAL Tejas LCA
India has long borrowed its fighter jets from countries like Russia, France and Britain under a license agreement to manufacture it locally by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. However, back in the 1980s the HAL started the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme to replace the ageing Soviet sourced MiG-21. With India’s former Prime