“Birds have landed safely in Ambala,” tweeted Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. “The landing of Rafale fighter jets in India marks the beginning of a new era in our military history.”
Singh said the two-engine multi-engine fighters are “revolutionizing” the Indian Air Force (IAF). Ordered in 2016, they come in a one-seat or two-seat version and can be equipped with air, land and ship miles as well as a 30mm cannon, according to the manufacturer, Dassault Aviation.
Dassault also benefits from the Rafale Flight Control System, which includes the ability for it to fly on autopilot in a way that tracks ground in all weather conditions.
“This aircraft has a very good performance in flight and its weapons, radar and other sensors and electronic warfare capabilities are among the best in the world. Its arrival in India it will make the IAF much stronger to deter any threat that may be posed on our country, ”Singh is quoted as saying in a government press release.
Singh referred to the dispute on Wednesday.
“If there is anyone who should be worried about, or critical about this new capacity of the Indian Air Force, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity,” he tweeted.
The Indian media was filled with reviews of brilliant experts on Rafale jets compared to what China could suffer in any air conflict, including China’s new J-20 stealth fighters. The Rafale is not a stealth jet, but is promoted to having a low profile that is not easy to detect on radar.
The way the two aircraft can face it is an open debate, but the Rafale can have a distinct advantage – a combat experience.
Flying by French forces, the Rafale has been used in operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria, Dassault Aviation says on its website.
India has officially accepted the delivery of the first batch of jets at the French plant where they are manufactured last October.
Indian pilots train on aircraft and fly them on the 8,500-kilometer (5,280-mile) journey from France to India. The trip included a stopover at Al Dhafra air in the United Arab Emirates, with a French Air Force tanker aircraft providing inflighting refueling, the Indian government said in a press release.
Two Su-30 Indian fighters escorted the Rafales as they entered Indian airspace, the government said.
Along with the Su-30s, other fighters in the Indian fleet include the Mirage 2000, the LCA Tejas, the MiG-27, the MiG-29 and the Jaguar.