Bengaluru: India is all set to welcome six more Rafale jets, taking the squadron strength to 20. Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria will flag off thesse jets from Merignac-Bordeaux airbase in south-western France on 21 April. 

“The six fighters will fly to Ambala air base, from where the fighters will be repurposed for the formation of a second squadron at Hasimara,“ said a senior air force officer, as reported by Times of India. 

In May, 4 more Rafale jets would be flying to India. 

Here are some features of Rafale aircraft:

1. They will be able to outgun and outrun Pakistani F-16 and JF-17 as well as the Chinese Chengdu J-20 fighters.

2. The upgrades range from radar enhancements, Israeli helmet-mounted displays and low-band jammers to towed decoy systems, 10-hour flight data recording and engine capability for "cold start" from high-altitude regions like Ladakh.

3. All the 36 Rafales, which can also deliver nuclear weapons, are slated to be delivered by end-2021. The Ambala and Hashimara airbases will house 18 each for the western and eastern fronts. The Rafales will significantly add to the qualitative and quantitative edge IAF already enjoys over the Chinese air force along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control.

4. The IAF has also projected the operational need to go in for another 36 Rafales in the backdrop of its depleting number of fighter squadrons as well as both Hasimara and Ambala having the requisite infrastructure to house two squadrons each. But that decision is yet to be taken.

5. The top speed of the aircraft is 2223 km/hr, the maximum weight of the aircraft is 24,500 kg and the range is 3,700 km.

6. It is capable of ground support, aerial reconnaissance, in-depth strikes, interception and nuclear deterrence.