French company Dassault Aviation will complete the deliveries of the 36 ‘Rafale’ fighter jets to the Indian Air Force (IAF) soon. As reported by Financial Express Online earlier, as per the Intergovernmental deal inked by both sides in September 2016, India had placed an order for 36 multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition at a cost of Rs 59,000 crores. And as per the contract, the delivery of all the 36 will be completed by 2022.
The last of the three fighter jets with the 13 identified India specific enhancements (ISE) are expected to arrive later this week. The company has already handed over three fighters to the IAF and modalities are being worked out for ferrying them to India.
The aircraft will take off from France and will be supported by in-flight refueling on its journey, just like the previous times when the ferrying was supported by the air forces of France and UAE.
Will the earlier Rafale delivered to IAF have ISE?
Yes. The upgrade of the all the Rafale which are already with the IAF are in the process of being upgraded to the ISE configuration in India. All the 13 ISE are already certified by the concerned authorities.
Before being ferried to India, some of the ISE were incorporated at the manufacturing stage. And post certification the remaining are being included in the aircraft and this is related to software and hardware upgrades.
What does RB stand for?
As has been reported earlier, the aircraft in the IAF fleet have a unique tail number. And, all fighters and trainers have different set of alphabets as initials.
Out of the 36 fighter jets, the first RB008 which is the first jet handed over to the IAF was the earliest fighter fitted with ISE and was certified, will remain in France for the time being, explained a senior officer.
The initial stands for theformer IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. He had as the then Deputy Chief had led the negotiation team when the deal was in the process of contract negotiations and he played a very critical role in the final contract. And, at the time of the first delivery, he was the then chief of IAF.
The first Rafale for India, with the tail number RB008, had made its maiden flight on October 30, 2018 in France. It was on this aircraft that the 13 ISE have been incorporated, tested and certified.
India was the fourth country in the world to have the Rafale in its fleet. The others are Qatar, Egypt and France. And very recently, Indonesia has confirmed an order of 42 Rafale fighters from Dassault Aviation of France.
The ISE which are in the process of being incorporated in all the Rafale the IAF has in its fleet are considered to be the most advanced among all the Rafales being flown by other Air Forces across the globe.
More about the ISE
These include potent electronic jammer pod and avionics; helmet mounted display; radar enhancements; advanced infrared search and track sensors; and their ability to start and operate from high-altitude airfields.
The first batch of five Rafales which had arrived in India in September 2020 were inducted into the No 17 Golden Arrows Squadron at the Ambala Air Force Station. The second squadron for these fighters was operationalised last year in July at Main operating Base at Hashimara, West Bengal.