India to base first squadron of Rafale fighter jets in Bengal
Author: Desk January 7, 2017
NEW DELHI: India will base its first squadron of Rafale fighter jets. It said to be also capable of delivering nuclear weapons, in the eastern sector as part of the overall policy to gradually build nuclear as well as conventional deterrence against China.
With Sukhoi-30MKI fighters already operating from Tezpur and Chabua in Assam, the IAF has now wrap up plans for the first 18 Rafales to be stationed at the Hasimara airbase in Bengal from late-2019.
India is also conducting final trials of the nuclear-capable Agni-IV and Agni-V ballistic missiles after the Strategic Forces Command inducted the AgniIII a couple of years ago.
The IAF, under the Rs 59,000 crore (7.87 billion euro) deal inked with France will get 36 Rafales in batches by mid-2022 or so. With 14 India-specific requirements, including the capability for “cold start“ from high-altitude regions, the Rafale packs quite a punch with its ability to carry 9.3-tonne of weapons and simultaneously perform both air defence and ground attack missions.
The Panagarh base in Bengal is also set to get its six C-130J Super Her cules aircraft. Panagarh, of course, is also going to be the headquarter of the Army’s new 17 Mountain Strike Corps being raised with two high-altitude infantry divisions, apart from other armoured, artillery , air defence and engineer brigades spread from Ladakh to Arunachal.
The IAF also activated the advance landing ground (ALG) at Tuting, in Arunachal’s Upper Siang district, just 10 days ago. It is the sixth such ALG to be made operational in Arunachal apart from the ones in eastern Ladakh, all with an eye firmly on China.