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Rafale Jets Vital to Keep Pakistan & China at Bay

Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa defended the government’s Rafale Jet purchase deal, stating that the purchase of Rafale jets and S-400 missile systems was essential to give the Indian Armed Forces a technical edge against its neighbours, and would serve as a deterrent against armed conflict.

Pakistan has updated F-16s with new technology. China has modernised their technology also. Since our neighbours are updating and developing, we need to keep pace with them. We have to match the force levels of our adversaries so we can fight on two fronts. This will provide a deterrent to our neighbours. Being able to hit fast is an important deterrent.

“Chinese fighter aircraft have been permanently stationed in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in the past few years. Advanced radar and surface-to-air missiles have also been stationed in the region,” Dhanoa added.

China has approximately 1700 fighter aircraft. Of which 800 are fourth generation. A large number of these can be deployed against us in the TAR. Against a sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons, we only have 31. We do not have the numbers.

The Rafale Jet deal has been a flashpoint between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress, with the Congress accusing the ruling party of inflating the price of Rafale jets well beyond what they actually cost.


WHAT IS THE RAFALE DEAL?

Built by the French firm, Dassault Aviation, Rafale jets are twin-engine Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). Dassault describes Rafale as “Omnirole” jets that are versatile and can adapt to meet all air mission requirements.

Between 2000-2012, the Indian Air Force’s strength declined to 34 squadrons as many jets were rendered obsolete. Each squadron consists of 18 jets and to reach its optimum capability, India requires 42 squadrons of fighter jets.

The deal for 36 Rafale jets was signed on September 2016 by then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. According to reports by The Indian Express, specifics of the deal included providing free training to 10 IAF personnel, including three pilots, estimated to be worth Euro 100 million.


WHY IS THE RAFALE JET DEAL A FLASHPOINT?

The Defence Ministry has refused to divulge details of the Rafale Jets’ pricing. The Congress has termed the deal as ‘the great Rafale mystery’. Congress President Rahul Gandhi took to social media, demanding financial details on the deal from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman.

While addressing the Parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused the Congress of manufacturing allegations against the BJP Government. Jaitley accused the Congress Government too of maintaining secrecy over defence deals during its regime.

Congress also alleged that the BJP government promoted the interests of Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence Limited (RDL) after RDL entered into a joint venture with Dassault Aviation.

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