The arrival of Rafale fighter jets has got sensational media coverage in the Indian media. The 4++ Rafale jet developed by French Dassault Aviation entered production in 1992 and has since been sold to the French Egyptian and the UAE Air Force, but never ever it would have received so much appreciation.
India is the latest country to acquire the Rafales and it has been welcomed with extreme fanfare. While the Rafale jet is an excellent addition to the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Indian media seems to be in awe of the French aircraft.
The arrival of the fighter jet has received more coverage than the deadly floods plaguing the north-eastern half of the country or rising coronavirus cases. Today, the entire day was spent discussing the Rafales, sharing its pictures or comparing it with the fighter plans of Pakistan.
NDTV covered the arrival extensively and shared pictures, videos and interviews with experts. It also gave regular updates on microblogging site Twitter with regards to the whereabouts of the planes.
"Welcome To Indian Ocean": Audio Of Navy Warship's Chat With Rafales
— NDTV (@ndtv) July 29, 2020
Similar stories were run by Hindustan Times as the media outlet followed the arrival of the Rafale jets. The newspaper also ran an article discussing the plans of the IAF and how it plans to take on China using the newly arrived jet.
Indian Air Force with Rafale has plan to take the fight to China
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) July 29, 2020
Most other media outlets followed the same pattern and welcomed the arrival of the fighter jets. CNN-News 18 ran a cover story comparing the Rafale to the Chinese JF-17 and J-20 planes.
According to experts at EurAsian Times, the hype in the Indian media can be due to two reasons. First, the Rafale is the first western combat aircraft to join the Indian Air Force after Mirage 2000s. Its arrival has generated a natural excitement amongst people.
Second, the arrival of the Rafale coincides with the increasing border tensions with China and its presence in the Indian Air Force serves a boost not only to the armed forces but also the people of the country.
The Rafales will be part of the No. 17 Squadron of the Air Force, also known as the ”Golden Arrows’. The pending Rafale’s are expected to be delivered by the end of 2021.
Politicians Welcome Rafale
Indian politicians too were quick to applaud the arrival of the Rafale jets from France. Many politicians took to social media sites to celebrate the arrival of the jets.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh welcomed the latest additions of the IAF by taking to Twitter and tweeting a video of the jet landing in Ambala.
The Touchdown of Rafale at Ambala. pic.twitter.com/e3OFQa1bZY
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) July 29, 2020
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi too tweeted the same video as the planes touched down at Air Force Station Ambala.
दृष्टो नैव च नैव च।।
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 29, 2020
Opposition Minister Rahul Gandhi made no comments about the arrival of Rafale’s but the Indian National Congress was quick to point out that the idea of securing the planes was made during its administration.
It also took potshots at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for reducing the number of jets India wanted to purchase from 126 to just 36.
The Congress Rafale purchase would have ensured India receives 126 jets instead of BJP's 36.
108 Rafale jets would have been Made in India.
India would have received the Rafale jets by approx 2016
Cost of each Rafale jet would have been Rs. 526 crore.
— Congress (@INCIndia) July 29, 2020
The arrival of French Rafale fighter jets is undoubtedly a big boost to the Indian Air Force. However, the addition does not prepare India for a possible two-front war with China and Pakistan. At best, it prepares New Delhi to defend itself against a hostile China and supporting the existing fleet in the IAF.
France24 quoting AFP writes in the headlines – India uses the arrival of new fighter jets to warn China. It goes on to write – a water-cannon guard of honour greeted the five jets when they landed at the Ambala airbase. An exceptional nationwide coverage on the combat jets has been sharpened by deadly border clashes with China.