As per the recent notification, the Rafale fighter jets will have ‘BS’ as their tail sign, which is also the initials of the former Air Force Chief Birender Singh Dhanoa. Every aircraft in the Indian Air Force has a unique tail number in a series and these numbers are given by the operations branch of the force. Also, the tail sign for the two-seater trainer Rafales would be RB which are the initials of the current Indian Airforce Chief, RKS Bhadauria.
According to media reports, the IAF officials have said, “While the two-seater trainer Rafales will have the tail number initials of present Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria RB, the fighter versions will fly with the tail sign initials of BS after the previous chief Dhanoa. In the fleet of one type of combat aircraft, the tail numbers of trainer and fighter aircraft have a separate set of alphabets as initials. Thereafter, numbers are in a series”.
India has received the three-trainer aircraft from France. After India and France signed the Rafale deal in September 2016, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria was the Deputy Chief of Air Staff heading the contract negotiations for the agreement as the head of the Indian negotiating team. As per Defence Ministry officials, “The French side is considering the Indian request for 8-10 Meteor missiles to be given to India by 2020 with the first four aircraft”.
India is scheduled to receive the first jet in May next year along with 8-10 Meteor air-to-air beyond visual range missiles. France has also requested Indian experts to check the performance of the Rafale at the French base in the UAE in an environment of high temperature. Out of the total 36 Rafale jets that are to be acquired, 4 would be the trainer aircraft, whereas, remaining 32 will be the fighter jets.