Following traditions, the Indian Air Force has named the first Rafale trainer aircraft as RB 008, in a tribute to an officer who led the tough negotiations for the 36 French fighter jets. The officer in this case is Air Marshal Rakesh Bhaduria, who played a very critical role in the procurement of the fighter jets. The RB 008 first flew on October 30 and will be the 36th aircraft to be delivered, 67 months after the Inter Government Agreement, in April 2022.
The tail number of the Rafale fighter jets, besides the trainer, will be in the series of BS 001 and there is no prize for guessing what the BS stands for. For those still wondering, it is named after IAF chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa.
In the past too, the fighter jets have been named after officers who have played a crucial role in the procurement. Even the tail number of LCA Tejas is named after scientist Dr Kota Harinarayana, the programme director and chief designer of the indigenous aircraft.
Similarly, MiG 27s, which have a tail number of TS is also named after a former officer of the IAF just like in the case of SB for Sukhois. SB stands for two young Wing Commanders.
Interestingly, the C17 transport aircraft of the IAF has a tail number CB, named after Charlie Browne, the former IAF chief NAK Browne, whose call sign was Charlie Browne.
The Tail Number is given by the Operations Branch of the IAF and then the series are allotted by the Maintenance Branch. “These are nuggets which many don’t know. There is no fixed parameter for tail numbers,” a source said.