Sep 21, 2020, 10:41AM ISTSource: TOI.in
The country’s latest fighter jets, the omni-role Rafales, have now begun to fly in the skies over Ladakh amid the ongoing almost five-month long military confrontation with China in the high-altitude region. Defence sources on Sunday said the five Rafales, which were formally inducted into service at the Ambala air base on September 10, have conducted some “familiarization sorties” in Ladakh in recent days. “Rafale pilots have flown the jets from Ambala to Ladakh to familiarize themselves with the operational environment there,” said a source. Without midair refueling, the 4.5-generation Rafales have a combat range of 780-km to 1,650-km, depending on the nature of their mission. Moreover, the fighters are armed with long stand-off weapons like the over 300-km range `Scalp’ air-to-ground cruise missiles. “As such, the Rafales don’t have to be based at Leh,” said the source. At the induction ceremony, which was attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria had said the twin-engine Rafales were now “good to go and deliver” for the country. The induction of Rafales, with their ability to “rapidly access” the country’s areas of interests, “could not have happened at a more opportune time considering the security scenario today”. Rafales will “intimidate and dominate whenever and wherever” they are deployed, he said.