With an aim to bolster operational readiness of Indian Air Force (IAF), India has asked France to arm the first four Rafale fighters, which are scheduled for delivery in May, with the Meteor air-to-air missiles, reports Times of India.
According to the report, India has made the request for delivery of at least 8-10 Meteor missiles with the four Rafale jets during the 8 October visit of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to France to formally accept the first fighter.
The first Rafale fighters will touch down at the Ambala airbase in May next year.
“Earlier, as per the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked for 36 Rafale jets and their weapon packages in September 2016, the progressive deliveries of the Meteor and the over 300-km range Scalp air-to-ground cruise missiles were to begin several months later,” a source was quoted in the report as saying.
“But given the current operational situation with Pakistan, India has asked for faster delivery of at least 8-10 Meteor missiles. France is examining the request,” he added.
The request comes in the backdrop of prevailing tensions between India and Pakistan, as the two countries have been involved in aerial skirmish along the Line of Control On 27 February in J&K in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.
As per the report, the Pakistani F-16 fighters armed with the AIM-120C advance medium range air-to-air missile (AMRAAMs), having a range of about 100 km, and had fired several missiles on Indian Sukhoi Su-30 MKIs before the latter could even get into their firing range.
According to the IAF, Induction of the Rafales armed with the greater-range Meteor missiles powered by Ramjet engines to fly at Mach 4 speed will change the operational dynamics for achieving “air dominance”.
Currently, Pakistan and China do not have any missile of this class in their combat inventories.