IAF to induct first batch of 5 Rafale jets by July end amid border row with China


New Delhi (NVI) The first batch of five Rafale Fighter jets is likely to arrive in India by July end, amid border row with China even as military and diplomatic talks are underway to resolve the situation in Eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“The first batch of five Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale is likely to arrive in India by end July 2020. The aircraft will be inducted at Air Force Station Ambala on 29 July subject to weather,” the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

The Ministry also informed that no media coverage is planned on arrival. However, the final induction ceremony will take place in second half of August wherein full media coverage would be planned, MoD said.

Meanwhile, before of the induction of French fighter jets, IAF aircrew and ground crew have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly advanced weapons systems and are fully operational now.

Post arrival, efforts will focus on operationalisation of the aircraft “at the earliest”, the Ministry of Defence said, in an indirect reference to the ongoing border tensions along Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

Although disengagement has been seen at Patrolling Point 14 (PP14) in Galwan Valley, where the deadly clashes took place, and Hot Springs and Gogra Post areas, India’s focus is now towards disengagement at the north bank of Pangong Tso, which seems to be another challenge.

20 Indian soldiers lost their lives in the June 15 deadly clashes with the Chinese troops in Galwan Valley, which escalated the tensions between the two countries at LAC.

In another development, the Air Force Commanders’ Conference (AFCC) will be conducted from 22-24 Jul 20, at Air Headquarters (Vayu Bhawan) New Delhi. The theme of the conference is “IAF in the Next Decade”.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to inaugurate the AFCC on July 22. The Defence Secretary and Secretary Defence Production are also expected to be present during the inauguration, an MoD release stated.

The AFCC will be chaired by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria.

During the three day conference, the discussions would take stock of the current operational scenario and deployments. The plan of action for operational capability enhancement of the IAF in the next decade will also be discussed, MoD said.