Message to the adversary
At a ceremony in Ambala on September 10 where five Rafale jets were inducted into the IAF, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the induction of the fleet was crucial considering the atmosphere being created along the frontier and that it is a “big and stern” message to those eyeing India’s sovereignty.
IAF war games
It is significant that the deployment of French-made Rafale jets in Ladakh came less than 10 days after they were formally inducted into the IAF. The multirole Rafale jets are known for air-superiority and precision strikes. “The Rafale jets are flying around Ladakh,” said a source without elaborating. The IAF has also deployed almost all its frontline fighter jets like Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar and Mirage 2000 aircraft in the key frontier air bases in eastern Ladakh and elsewhere along the LAC. The IAF is also carrying out night time combat air patrols in the eastern Ladakh region.
Locked and loaded
“We are very proud to be equipping the IAF’s Rafales with a full comprehensive weapon package that includes the game-changing Meteor and MICA air-to-air missiles and the SCALP cruise missile to conduct deep strike missions in a complex and severe environment,” CEO of missile maker MBDA Eric Beranger had said when Rafales were formally inducted. Speaking on the occasion, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria had said induction of Rafale jets could not have happened at a more opportune time considering the security scenario.
Setting up air defence
On September 12, Central Air Command chief, Air Marshal Rajesh Kumar met Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to seek land for setting up facilities that will help the IAF carry out its activities in the border areas. The Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C), Central Air Command, during his meeting with Rawat also discussed the availability of land for installing air defence radars and advance landing ground in the hilly areas of the state due to their strategic significance. Uttarakhand shares its borders with China and Nepal.
The IAF has also deployed Apache attack choppers as well as Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to transport troops to various forward locations in eastern Ladakh.