NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to increase its prowess by inducting three more Rafale Omni-role fighters and another nine are scheduled to get inducted by April end. The Hasimara forward base in north Bengal will kick off operations with five fighters next month. According to sources, an IAF team has already reached France to zero in on the date for ferrying three Rafales to Ambala. India ordered 36 planes from France (the equivalent of two squadrons with 18 jets each) in September 2016 for ₹59,000 crores under a government-to-government deal. The IAF’s Ambala-based Golden Arrows Squadron has already inducted 11 Rafale jets between July 2020 and January 2021. Dassault Aviation has already handed over seven more fighters to the IAF for training in France and will deliver the remaining six Rafale jets after April to complete the delivery of 36 aircraft by end of this year.
Based at Ambala and Hashimara, the two Rafale squadrons of the IAF will be able to focus on the threat from China along the Line of Actual Control. The Rafales based at Ambala can be deployed in Ladakh and those based at Hashimara can operate along the Himalayan frontier with China in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
IAF’s women pilots are already operating the MiG-21 Bison, Sukhoi-30, and Rafale. “Gender has no role in it. IAF assigned Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh to its first Rafale squadron based in Ambala. Ten women have been commissioned as fighter pilots after the experimental scheme for their induction into the IAF’s combat stream was introduced in 2015, a watershed in the air force’s history.