Amid tensions with China, IAF ex-chief calls Rafale ‘game changer’

The first batch of five Rafales arrived at Ambala airbase today amid heightened tensions with China

BS Dhanoa
Dhanoa said the Rafales can outgun any threat produced by the Chinese Air Force | File Photo: PTI

In case a war breaks out with China, the Indian Air Force armed with the Rafale fighter jets as its main weapon will decide the battle outcome, former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa told Hindustan Times on Wednesday (July 29). The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived at the Ambala airbase today amid heightened border tensions with the Asian neighbour.

Dhanoa, credited for masterminding the Balakot air strikes last year, said that the French-made fighters can outgun any threat produced by the Chinese Air Force. If the enemy air defences are destroyed or suppressed, the Chinese jets out in the open at Hotan air case and Gonggar air base will become fair targets, said the former air chief.

“Some 70 Chinese aircraft are without protection at Hotan and some 26 aircraft may be parked inside a tunnel which the PLA were building at Lhasa air base,” the report quoted him as saying. A confident Dhanoa further said that the Rafale and Su-30 MKI of the IAF will be able to counter the Chinese J-20 fifth generation fighter.

“Chinese Air Threat is mainly from their Surface to Air Missile Systems,” he was quoted as saying. The Chinese army has stationed surface to air missile batteries and artillery guns in occupied Aksai Chin, the report said. But in the absence of tree line cover, the Chinese jets would be left without protection if the defence cover is blown over, said Dhanoa.


“The Rafale with its advanced terrain following weapons and level II of Digital Terrain Elevation Data available to the Indian pilot, the error probability of the weapon is reduced to mere 10 metres. As I have said in the past, Rafale is a game changer,” the former chief of the Indian Air Force was quoted as saying.

Five Rafale jets of the 36 ordered from France arrived today at the Ambala airbase amid tightened security and prohibitory orders imposed near the air base in Haryana ahead of their arrival. Shooting of videos and photography were banned in the area.

Related news: India’s first fleet of Rafale combat jets land at Ambala airbase

The Rafale fighter jets are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale aircraft. Meteor is the next generation of BVR air-to-air missile, designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat.

The weapon has been developed by the MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden. It is powered by a unique rocket-ramjet motor that gives it far more engine power for much longer than any other missile, said an official.

Besides the missile systems, the Rafales will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infrared search and tracking systems, it was earlier reported.