The offensive capability of the military in northwestern India facing westwards will get another boost when the Rafale fighter jets start arriving in India in September. One of the squadrons will be based at Ambala.
This will be the fourth cutting-edge military equipment to be based in north India in the recent past — the Chinook heavy lift helicopters have been inducted at Chandigarh and the Apache attack copters have arrived and are expected to be inducted in September at Pathankot. The other being the ultra-light howitzers M777, manufactured by BAE Systems, delivered to the Army for used in the Himalayas.
In case of Rafale, the first jet will arrive in the third week of September. However, the next batch of four jets will be coming to India in April-May 2020. All 36 fighter planes are slated to arrive by September 2022.
The arrival of the first plane in September is significant as it will be exactly three years from the time India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France for Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016. The Indian Air Force (IAF) needs the jets as soon as possible. It is operating with 32 squadrons as against the mandated 42.
Apart from the new-age equipment, the Indian Army has tasked a Corps under the Western Command to raise the first integrated battle group (IBG). This is part of a series of steps to restructure the Army to make it leaner and more agile.
Once done, this will be the first tweak to the “cold start doctrine”, first made public in 2004 and planned after “Operation Parakram” of 2002. The first IBG is likely to be tasked along the frontier with Pakistan and what is operationally known as the “Shakargarh Bulge”.
In March, the IAF inducted the CH-47F Chinook helicopter, which significantly enhances its all-weather round-the-clock logistic capability, especially in the mountains, where manoeuvrability in close confines is an issue. With a payload capacity of 11 tonnes or 45 troops, the Chinooks provide fillip to the IAF heavy-lift capability.
The Chinooks, manufactured by US aerospace major Boeing, are the first US-built helicopter flown by the IAF in 40 years.
In July, the first batch of four Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters arrived at the Hindon airbase in Ghaziabad. The Air Force is likely to induct these helicopters by August-end or early September. The Apache is the first attack helicopter from the US in India’s defence arsenal.
All 36 planes by 2022
Source: The Tribune