Indian Defence News: Facing the dual challenge scenario from Pakistan and China, the Indian government has directed its Air Force to deploy the latest Rafale combat aircraft at Ambala in Haryana and Hasimara in West Bengal. These jet plane are expected to be arriving from France from 2019 onwards.
Ambala being the and largest airbases that the IAF inherited from the Royal Air Force, is home to the British-origin Jaguars and Russian MiG-21s that are no longer in use. The IAF zeroed in on the Harnayastation after it ran into land acquisition issues with Sarsawa in Uttar Pradesh, its first choice. Establishing the Rafale base in Sarsawa would have required an additional 540 acres of land, which meant protracted negotiations with farmers.
A team from Dassault Aviation had visited the base to review the maintenance and the infrastructure required to be set up. It was one of the eastern airbases that were spruced up during the 11thFive Year Plan.
In September 2016, India signed the Rs 59,000-crore (7.87 billion Euro) deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets. The first aircraft is to be delivered within 36 months (by September 2019) and all the aircraft would be in place in 67 months (by 2022). The jets would come with Meteor beyond-visual-range missile. Sources said the defence ministry and the IAF were trying to expedite the delivery schedule by a few months so that the first Rafale jet arrives in the first half of 2019. The IAF currently has 33 fighter squadrons as against the authorised strength of 42 squadrons.