14:39 GMT25 November 2020
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    The introduction of Hammer weapons into India’s recently bought Rafale jets comes as Indian and Chinese militaries have had a standoff lasting several months over the Ladakh border. The situation became especially volatile after troops from both sides clashed violently in mid-June in the Galwan Valley, resulting in 20 Indian casualties.

    The French Rafale Jets which have been ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be equipped with the Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range (HAMMER) missiles by the end of November, a media report said on Thursday.

    All eight Rafale jets India has so far received from France's Dassault have reportedly been berthed at the Ambala Air Base in northern Haryana state. Thirteen more Rafale jets are expected to be taken delivery of by the IAF by April next year, Indian daily the Hindustan Times stated on Thursday.

    Overall, India has ordered 36 jets from France at a price of $8.7 billion. The Indian jets stationed at the Ambala base are part of the Golden Arrows squadron.

    The contract for the delivery of HAMMER missiles between the Indian and French governments was reportedly signed in September this year.

    Although transferring HAMMER missiles from manufacturer to client would normally have taken a year, Paris has reportedly agreed to fast-track the order because of India’s six-month old border stand-off with China in eastern Ladakh.

    The media report said a HAMMER missile had the capability of being launched from a short range of 70km without the need of GPS. Once these missiles have been adopted, India’s Rafale jets will have four weapon systems in total (air-to-air MICA, METEOR missiles and air-to-ground SCALP stand-off weapon).

    The development comes as the three-nation tour of Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla draws to a close. He was in Paris last week as part of his official visit, before travelling to London and Berlin.


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