With India-China tensions soaring, Indian Rafale jets are reportedly rehearsing night flying in the mountainous region of Himachal Pradesh with its Meteor BVR (beyond visual range air-to-air missile) and SCALP ATG (air-to-ground missiles) reports the Hindustan Times, quoting its sources.
HT report says that a government official said that Rafale jets are staying away from the Line of Actual Control and the Chinese radars which are installed in Aksai Chin so that their frequency signatures are not identified.
Out of the 36 Rafale jets, five of them landed in India recently which will resurrect the Number 17 Golden Arrows squadron of the Indian Air Force. The rest is supposed to be delivered by 2022. When all the 36 Rafale jets are delivered, it will take it to 32 squadrons, still well below the 42 squadrons of the sanctioned strength.
As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, the arrival of the Rafale jets in India concerned both China and Pakistan. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that Islamabad has repeatedly urged the global community to deter India from continuing its disproportionate arms build-up, as it could lead to an arms race in South Asia.
She further alleged that arms build-up was being aided and abetted by the Western world through a policy of exemptions, waivers and supply of advanced equipment, technology and weapons for narrow commercial interests.
Former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa had earlier described the 4.5 generation Rafale fighter jets as a “game-changer” for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
There have been constant comparisons between Rafale and Chinese jets especially the stealth J-20s and a furious China via its state media – the Global Times, called the French-origin jets as over-hyped and labelled it as a third generations jets.
The weapons package for the aircraft was supposed to arrive in October, however, on India’s request in the wake of ongoing border tensions with China, France has diverted the missiles made for its own air force to India. These have started arriving already.