French-made Rafale jets arrive in India amid media fanfare

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Known for air-superiority and precision strikes, the French-made Rafales are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia. — Courtesy photo
Known for air-superiority and precision strikes, the French-made Rafales are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia. — Courtesy photo

NEW DELHI — The Indian electronic media on Wednesday went into a frenzy as the first batch of five French-made Rafale fighter jets arrived at an Indian air force base amid heightened border tensions with neighboring China.

The planes landed at the airbase in Ambala in the northern Indian state of Haryana amid tight security.

“The birds have landed safely in Ambala,” Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted.

"If anyone should be worried about or critical about this new capability ... it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity,” Singh said while issuing a veiled warning to China.

Indian and Chinese soldiers are locked in a tense stand-off along their disputed border in Ladakh region, while Indian troops regularly clash with Pakistani soldiers along their de facto frontier in disputed Kashmir, which is also claimed by Pakistan.

Known for air-superiority and precision strikes, the French-made Rafales are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.

The aircraft are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, SCALP cruise missiles and MICA weapons system will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.

Meteor is the next generation of BVR air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionize air-to-air combat. The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden.

The Meteor is powered by a unique rocket-ramjet motor that gives it far more engine power for much longer than any other missile, experts say.


The Meteor missile can target enemy aircraft from 150 km away. It can destroy enemy aircraft before they actually even get close to the Indian aircraft.

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