Indian Air Force Readying Rafales For Ladakh Deployment, Carries Out Night Sorties In Himachal Mountains

Indian Air Force Readying Rafales For Ladakh Deployment, Carries Out Night Sorties In Himachal MountainsAn IAF Rafale during in flight refueling on its way to India.  (Indian Embassy in France/Twitter)

Indian Air Force is preparing its newly-acquired Rafale fighter jets for night flying keeping in mind the ongoing border tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

According to a Hindustan Times report, the IAF pilots of the Golden Arrows squadron, which flies the Rafale jets, have been practicing night operations in the the mountainous terrain of Himachal Pradesh to be prepared in case situation along the LAC worsens. The squadron is practicing Rafales with their Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and SCALP air-to-ground stand-off weapon for any emergency call of duty.

The first batch of five Rafale aircraft, which arrived at IAF's Ambala airbase on 29 July, is currently "fully operational", as per the report.

According to a government official cited in by HT, the Rafales are being kept away from the LAC to prevent the Chinese radars, stationed in occupied Aksai Chin, to identify their frequency and jam it in any case.

However, some military experts have hinted that the 4.5th generation fighter jets might be used for training purposes in Ladakh sector as their programmable signal processors (PSP) given them the ability to alter signal frequencies in the event of hostilities.

"Even though the Chinese PLA (People's Liberation Army) have placed their electronic intelligence radars on mountain tops in the occupied Aksai Chin area for a clear line of sight, the war-time signature of Rafale will be different from that in practise mode. The PLA aircraft detection radars are good as they have been manufactured keeping the US air force in mind," said an expert.

India has contracted to buy 36 Rafale jets from French company Dassault Aviation and the rest of the aircraft are likely to land in India by the end of 2021. Out of 36 aircraft, 18 will be be stationed in Ambala and 18 will operate from Hasimara air base near Indo-Bhutan border.

The strategy is to counter Chinese aggression on both fronts and as per experts, Rafale jets are going to significantly increase Indian strength in skies.

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