Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister of India, on October 8, took delivery of the first of the 36 Rafale fighter jets that India is acquiring from France, which carries the tail number RB 001. The tail number has been named after Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria. The Air Marshal, who only days ago assumed the role of the Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force, played a key role that eventually finalised the deal to buy the 36 Rafale fighter jets. Bhadauria was also the first from the IAF to fly the Rafale jet.
The Rafale is a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), manufactured and designed by Dassault Aviation. India had ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in September 2016. The deal cost Rs, 59,000 crores in September 2016. The formal handover ceremony took place with the first batch of four Rafale jets to fly to India by May 2020. The fighter jet is touted to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. It has been described as a versatile aircraft which can carry out extensive combat missions. The Rafale jet which is powered by two SNECMA M88 engines helps the jet to achieve a high speed of 1,912 km per hour and a range of more than 3,700 km. Currently, India has fighter jets such as the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, MiG 29, Mirage-2000 and the indigenously built Tejas.
The Rafale has demonstrated itself to be extremely important in many conflicts over the years. The French Air Force was involved in multiple operations in Afghanistan and Libya, where the Rafale fighter jets were used. Furthermore, they played a crucial role in Mali. In the recent past, it was used to make peace in the Central African Republic. Apart from India, countries like Qatar and Egypt have Rafale jets.