87th Air Force Day | 09 Oct 2019

The Defence Minister of India formally received the first Rafale fighter jet (RB-001) built for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in France on 8th October, 2019, coinciding with 87th Air Force Day.

  • In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition.
  • As per IGA, deliveries have to begin 36 months from signing of contract and will be completed in 67 months.
  • It is expected that India will receive all aircraft by April-May 2022.
  • The RB in the aircraft designation stands for IAF Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria who as then Deputy Chief of IAF led the Indian negotiation team and had a major role in the contract negotiations.
  • About Rafale:
    • It is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base.
    • It is a fully versatile aircraft which can carry out all combat aviation missions to achieve air superiority and air defence, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
  • India’s Preparation:
    • The IAF has already completed preparations, including required infrastructure and training of pilots.
    • The aircraft will be deployed at Ambala air force station, considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF. The Indo-Pak border is around 220 km from there.
    • The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal.

87th Air Force Day

  • The Indian Air Force was officially established on 8th October 1932.
  • With around 1, 70,000 personnel and 1,500 aircraft, IAF is the fourth largest air force in the world after the US, Russia and China.
  • Every year, the Air Force Day is celebrated at Hindon base in the presence of the IAF chief and senior officials of the three armed forces.
    • IAF's Hindon Air Force Station, situated near Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) is the largest in Asia and 8th largest in the world.
  • This year the event saw IAF’s newest acquisitions—US-made Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and Apache attack helicopters—in the customary flypast.
    • The Air Chief Marshal also made a reference to the Balakot Strikes.

Source: TH