Friday, July 03, 2020

India buys French and Russian fighter jets amid bitter border stand-off on with China

New Delhi: France is likely to deliver soon six Rafale jets to India, and will also acquire Russian fighter planes to bolster its forces in a Himalayan region where the country is locked in a tense stand-off with China.

Six Rafale jets instead of four that were originally planned to be delivered by France will land in India on July 27, a defense ministry official said.

France agreed to supply the jets at a faster pace on India’s request, The Hindustan Times added.

Dassault Aviation, which manufactures Rafales, has 10 aircraft ready but some would be needed to train Indian pilots camping in France, the daily said.

India in 2016 signed a deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets worth 7.7 billion Euros to rebuild its fleet of mostly Soviet-era war planes.

Remaining jets are expected to be delivered by April 2022.

India’s air force is down to 33 squadrons, against a requirement of 45 to face both rival Pakistan and China, with which it has an unresolved border dispute.
Twenty Indian soldiers died on June 15 in the first clash with Chinese troops in 45 years in the border area.

A military buildup was underway as the two rival militaries accused each other of cross-border intrusions in Ladakh, the disputed region in Indian Kashmir.

Neither Delhi nor Beijing gave details but reports said both sides have moved thousands of infantry troops, aircraft, helicopter gunships, heavy artillery and armored regiments along their borders in Ladakh.

“It is a war-like deployment,” a military source told RFI.

Recent satellite images indicated China fortifying its presence along the ill-defined border.
On Thursday, India also decided to buy 33 Russian aircraft including 12 Sukhoi-30 and 21 MiG-29 multi-role fighter jets, the defense ministry said.
The Defence Acquisition Council also approved the modernization of India’s 59 existing MiG-29s, it said in a statement.

The project will cost around 2.1 billion Euros.
03/07/20 Vikram Roy/rfi
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