New Delhi: – France will be handing over six Rafale jets, to India, in the next week. Amid reports that the Indian Air Force has made preparations for immediate deployment, of these new fighter jets, on the China border, reports of preparations to purchase HAMMER missiles from France to augment the striking capabilities of these fighter jets, are also being received. France has expressed willingness to expeditiously equip the Rafale jets with HAMMER missiles, as demanded by the Indian Air Force.
Against the background of the mounting tension with China, the Indian defence forces have engaged in large scale purchase of defence equipment and ammunition. The Air Force also has increased the state of readiness along the China border. Addition of Rafale jets to the fleet will tremendously increase the strength of the Indian Air Force and it is reported that a decision to deploy them directly on the Chinese border is being taken. It is said that the issue regarding the deployment was discussed in the Commanders’ Conference of the Indian Air Force.
The Indian Air Force has taken this decision to purchase HAMMER missiles to equip the Rafale jets with these lethal missiles. Last week, the union government increased the financial rights of all three defence forces. As per this order, the defence forces do not need a prior government sanction for purchases up to ₹3 billion. This decision was taken to reduce the red tape in the purchase process. A senior government official said that using the same rights, the Indian Air Force is purchasing these HAMMER missiles for Rafale jets. The information that the process has already begun has been revealed, quoting this official.
Taking cognisance of the fact that these missiles, with a strike range of 60-70 kilometres, will be effective in mountainous terrains like Ladakh, the decision to equip the Rafale jets with the Hammer missiles was taken. France has expressed willingness to supply these missiles in a short time after placing the order. The Indian Air Force has not revealed any information regarding the purchase. But Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently ordered the Air Force to be ready for any eventuality. The report becomes important against this background.