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India Readies to Deploy Rafale Along China Border with First Batch of French-made Jets Arriving Soon

New Delhi (Sputnik): India signed a $8.7 billion deal in 2016 with France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets. Despite COVID- 19 disruptions, France delivered the jets in July, allowing the Indian Air Force to deter airborne threats from China and Pakistan.

Amid border tensions with China, the Indian Air force has received some weaponry, including the MBDA Scalp air-to-ground cruise missile and the Meteor air-to-air missile, for the Rafale fighter Jet ahead of the scheduled arrival of the first six jets from France on 27 July. 

Previously only four jets were due to be delivered, but this was upped to six after talks between the Indian Air Force and manufacturer Dassault Aviation. The planes will be stationed at Ambala air base, which is close to both Ladakh and the Pakistani border.

Ladakh is the region where India and China have been engaged in border stand-off with a massive military build-up on both sides.

Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh talked to his French counterpart Florence Parly on 2 June after receiving reports of a delay to the delivery of the jets due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After talking with Parly, Singh said: “France has affirmed its commitment to ensure the timely delivery of Rafale aircraft despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Rafale jet has the advantage of carrying a range of weapons like MBDA's Meteor air-to-air missile and the Scalp cruise missile.

“The Rafale aircraft is a highly integrated, agile and smart air combat system. It will give us an edge over Pakistan and China when we use it in combination with SU-30 and other fleets,” Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria said.

The Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, and infra-red search and tracking systems.

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