In wake of tensions between India and Pakistan rising to an all time high, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said that India may start getting Rafale fighter aircraft from France earlier than the agreed-upon 36 months.
His views come soon after post-Uri surgical strikes on the launch pads of terrorists along the Line of Control and the charged atmosphere of war-mongering.
“As per terms of the deal it is 36 months (during which the delivery has to start), but it may come slightly earlier. We have requested them to (deliver it) as fast as possible,” he said.
India and France have signed a Rs 59,000 crore deal for Rafale fighter jets, which are equipped with latest missiles and weapon system to give the IAF an edge over arch-rival Pakistan and other enemies.
The jet will enable the IAF to strike targets in Pakistan and China from within Indian territory. As per the contract the delivery of jets will begin in 36 months and will be completed in 66 months from the date the contract is inked.
It is the first fighter jet deal in 20 years and comes with a saving of nearly 750 million Euros than the UPA era one.
The Rafale deal is crucial for Indian Air Force which is witnessing a rapid drawdown in its combat squadrons. To combat China and Pakistan, the IAF needs 45 combat units. And as of now the IAF has 33 fighter squadrons, each consisting of 18 fighter planes. The IAF is low on number of warplanes for a two-front war.
Rafale comes equipped with Meteor missile, which is a Beyond Visual Range missile and provides a no-escape zone three times greater than that of a conventionally powered missile. Meteor is also five times as lethal in comparison to the American AMRAAM missile.
The Rafales will also be fitted with MICA missiles, an Air to Land precision missile of more than 300 km range.
France is also guarantying performance-based logistics support which means that 75 per cent of the fleet will be airworthy at any given time.
As per a media report in Beijing, China apprehends that India will deploy the 36 nuclear-capable Rafale fighter jets in the border regions of China and Pakistan to enhance its deterrence capability.
“India picked French-made jet fighters because they are cheaper and have a nuclear deterrence capability,” the report said.