The Indian Air Force will formally induct the Rafale aircraft on Thursday at Air Force Station, Ambala. The aircraft will be part of 17 Squadron, the ‘Golden Arrows’. The first five Indian Air Force Rafale aircraft arrived at Air Force Station, Ambala, from France on 27 July 2020.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of the Armed Forces of France Florence Parly will be the chief guest for the event. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, G. Satheesh Reddy, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman, DRDO, along with other senior officers of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces will be present to mark a very important milestone in the history of the IAF.
The French delegation will be represented by Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India, Air General Eric Autellet, Vice Chief of the Air Staff of the French Air Force and other senior officials. A large delegation of senior functionaries of French defence industries which includes Eric Trappier, Chairman and Chief Executive of Dassault Aviation, and Eric Beranger, CEO, MBDA, will be present during the ceremony.
Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces of France, will be given a ceremonial Guard of Honour on arrival at Delhi. At Ambala the programme will include ceremonial unveiling of the Rafale aircraft, a traditional ‘Sarva Dharma Puja’, Air Display by Rafale and Tejas aircraft as well as by ‘Sarang Aerobatic Team’. Afterwards, a traditional water cannon salute will be given to the Rafale aircraft. The programme will culminate with the ceremonial induction of Rafale aircraft to 17 Squadron. After the ceremonial events the Indian and French delegation will have a bilateral meeting.
ARMED WITH GAMECHANGING WEAPONS
India’s Rafale combat aircraft will provide the Indian Air Force not just with a fast and agile modern fighter but one that comes armed with a highly potent set of weapons from MBDA that are unrivalled by any of India’s neighbours.
Meteor: The most famous of these weapons is the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, which is widely recognised as a game changer for air combat. The Meteor is powered by a unique rocket-ramjet motor that gives Meteor far more engine power, for much longer than any other missile. This means it can fly faster, fly longer, and manoeuvre more than any other missile — giving Meteor the ability to chase down and destroy agile hostile fighters at even the furthers of ranges. As a result, Meteor has a no-escape zone many times greater than any other air-to-air missile.
SCALP: India’s Rafales will also be equipped with the SCALP deep-strike cruise missile from MBDA. This stealthy weapon has proven repeatedly in combat its unerring ability to strike hardened and protected targets deep inside hostile territory — without the need for the Rafale to enter hostile airspace. SCALP’s operational effectiveness is the result of three key factors: its high survivability thanks to its long stand-off range, low observability and sophisticated mission planning system; its pinpoint terminal accuracy through its highly accurate seeker and target recognition system; and its terminal effectiveness provide by its powerful tandem warhead and multiple detonation modes.
MICA: The IAF’s Rafales will also be equipped with MICA, a missile the Indian Air Force knows very well as it is also part of the upgrade package for the IAF’s Mirage 2000 aircraft. MICA is the only missile in the world featuring two interoperable seekers (active radar and imaging infrared) to cover the spectrum from close-in dogfight to long beyond visual range. Its ability to fly out to BVR in passive mode before the seeker locks on in the final stages of the end game has earned it the nickname “silent killer” as the target has little time to react or to deploy effective countermeasures.
INDO-FRENCH BILATERAL TALKS
Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces of France, will undertake an official visit on Thursday to India, starting with the official induction ceremony of the first batch of the Rafale fighter aircraft by the Indian Air Force at AFS Ambala.This will mark minister Parly’s third official visit to India since 2017 and one of her very first official trips since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic.
On this occasion, minister Parly will focus on further strengthening France’s forward-looking defence cooperation with India, its foremost Asian strategic partner. She will thus meet her Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh and Ajit Doval, the National Security Adviser. Their broad-ranging talks will cover, among others, industrial and technological partnership in line with the Make in India programme; operational defence cooperation, particularly maritime security in the Indo-Pacific; modalities of continuing the armed forces’ joint exercises in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic; counter-terrorism cooperation; as well as major regional and international strategic issues. These talks will further President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to deepen and expand the Indo-French partnership, with strategic autonomy and the defence of a multipolar order as its cornerstones.