Rafale deployment caused worries on Chinese side, says IAF chief

China has strengthened its air defence capability, Bhadauria says, adding India is ready for any change in tactics

Six Rafale warplanes are expected to arrive in India on April 28 and another batch of four will arrive next month, taking the total strength of the Rafale fleet strength in the IAF to 24. File Photo: PTI

Indian Air Force chief RKS Bhadauria on Thursday (February 4) said the induction of Rafale aircraft has caused worries in the Chinese camp as they had deployed J-20 fighters close to the Indian territory as soon as the French-origin jets joined the IAF fleet, ANI reported.

“Talks are going on… We have deployed our forces which are required. All depends on how the talks go. A lot of attention is being given to that and if de-escalation and disengagement start, it would be good. If it does not or some new situation happens, we are fully prepared for that,” IAF Chief Bhadauria told the news agency.

Also read: China replaces PLA commander who started Ladakh standoff

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Over the reports of a pullback by the Chinese side in the Ladakh sector, Bhadauria said, “From China’s side, there have been some pullbacks from air deployment view and changes in deployment. But there have some other actions which have been contrary like strengthening their air defence capability. These deployments have not reduced and are being strengthened.”

He said IAF alters its deployments or readiness level as per what the ground situation.

India has so far received 11 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore for 36 such multi-role jets. The Rafale jets are the first imported fighters to join the force in 23 years after the Russsian Sukhoi Su-30MKI entered service in 1997. The jets are capable of carrying out ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance and nuclear strike deterrence.

A Rafale fighter can carry almost 10 tons of weapons. The India-specific requirements on these jets include capability to operate from high-altitude bases, radar warning receivers, flight data recorders with storage for 10 hours of data, infrared search and track systems, jammers and towed decoys to distract incoming missiles.

Noting the actions and capabilities of the Chinese side, the IAF Chief said, “They had brought their J-20 fighter aircraft (to areas close to eastern Ladakh) and they go off from there but that is the flexibility of airpower. The moment Indian Rafales were brought in, their J-20 was there. We know their actions and capabilities and we are taking the required steps.”

Whether the induction of Rafale aircraft has caused worries in the Chinese camp, he said, “Of course, it will.”

Also read: With Rafale in its armory, IAF chief talks of ‘capability to strike first’

On how LCA Tejas induction will help squadron strength of Air Force, he said, “With LCA induction, we have arrested the slide of the number of squadrons depleting and we’ve now reversed it to start increasing back. We are going to start upwards 30 squadrons now.”

The IAF Chief called the increase in the capital outlay of Defence budget “a huge step”, which will provide adequate budgetary support amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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