New Delhi, ANI. After acquiring around 30 Rafale fighter jets from France, the Air Force will start upgrading its fleet of these French-origin fighter jets from January 2022 with specialized equipment and lethal weapons. Sources said that a high level team of Indian Air Force officers is presently present at the Estres airbase in France to evaluate the performance of the test aircraft (tail number RB-008). This aircraft has been equipped according to the needs of the country under the contract of 2016.
Once the Indian Air Force approves this upgrade, its upgradation will be started from January next year to make Indian aircraft more capable. Under this exercise, the aircraft will be equipped with highly capable missiles, low band jammers and satellite communication system as per Indian requirements. It is known that about 30 of these aircraft have already been received by the Air Force. Three more Rafale aircraft will reach the country from 7 to 8 December.
Air Force sources said that as part of the deal, one kit from France would be brought to India and three to four Indian Rafale aircraft would be upgraded to ISE standards every month. The last aircraft to arrive in India from France will be the RB-008, which is named after former Air Chief Marshal Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria (Retd). It was RKS Bhadauria who played a key role as the deputy chief for signing a contract worth over Rs 60,000 crore with France under the government-to-government agreement.
According to the report of news agency ANI, the upgraded aircraft will be deployed at Ambala airbase. After training its personnel in France, the Indian Air Force has now started training its pilots on these aircraft in the country itself. Once fully inducted into the IAF, the fleet of Rafale aircraft will consist of eight twin-seater trainer aircraft with RB series tail numbers while 28 single seater aircraft with BS series tail numbers. The planes have been given the BS tail number in honor of former Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa who retired in 2019 after leading the Balakot airstrike on 26 February 2019.