The first five Rafale fighter jets, out of 36 aircraft purchased by New Delhi, landed in India on Wednesday, July 29. A delivery that the Indian authorities eagerly awaited in connection with border tensions with Pakistan and China.
The first five Rafale fighter jets, which carry the green, white and orange cockade and are led by crews from the Indian Air Force (IAF), arrived in India on Wednesday, July 29, where they were greeted by a hedge of honor for water cannons at Ambalabasen in the north. .
A delivery that marks the “beginning of a new era” in India’s military history, said Defense Minister RajnathSingh.
“If anyone should be concerned or critical of the IAF’s new capabilities, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity,” added the minister, who did not directly name China. But media and observers across the country said his statements were clearly aimed at the neighboring giant.
India bought 36 Rafale fighter jets from France for an estimated $ 9.4 billion. Delivery of the last aircraft is scheduled for the end of 2021.
Rafale eagerly awaited New Delhi due to the aging Indian fleet of various fighter jets and recurring border tensions with Islamabad and Beijing.
“Growing Chinese threat”
On June 15, a deadly confrontation, the first in forty-five years, between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh (northern India), along their disputed border, claimed the lives of at least 20 Indian soldiers.
The incident, in which each country blames the other, resulted in the movement of thousands of troops in the region. However, China and India continued discussions in an attempt to ease tensions.
India has acknowledged that it is lagging behind China and other powers in its military capabilities, and the purchase of the Rafale jet is a project among many to strengthen its 1.4 million strong army.
The arrival of the Rafale plane “will help India deal with the growing Chinese threat, as it becomes clear that the current territorial conflict in Ladakh will continue into the winter,” said SameerPatil, an expert on international security for the Gateway House tank.
Last year, the Indian opposition accused the government of favoring the private conglomerate, Reliance Group, as a partner of Dassault, at the expense of the state-run Hindustan Aerospace Industries (HAL). Reliance Group is led by businessman AnilAmbani, known for being close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The aircraft manufacturer, of which India was the first international customer in 1953, hopes to sell additional Rafales to New Delhi. The South Asian giant had in May 2017 formulated an official request for information for the delivery of 57 fighter jets intended for the Indian Navy and another in July 2018 for 110 units intended for the IndianAir Force.