BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:30 P.M.) – Five French-made Rafale fighters joined the Indian Air Force last month in a major deal involving 36 fighters, to be fully delivered to India by 2022.
The Rafale fighters arrived, in light of repeated tensions between the Chinese and Indian armies, which placed the new fighters at the Ambala Air Base in the Indian state of Haryana.
The Times of India newspaper said that India was amassing these planes to be operational near the Chinese border in light of the tensions between the two countries.
The newspaper pointed out that France sped up the delivery of Rafale aircraft to India at the request of New Delhi, noting that the first batch of five aircraft was sent.
Meanwhile, the National Interest online publication said that the Rafale will square off against the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter, noting that both India and China believe that the fighter jet they have is the most powerful.
“Despite that, neither of them have fought any air battles so far, with the exception of participating in air strikes to carry out bombings against ground targets.”
China has the largest air force in Asia, according to the magazine, which indicated that China is rapidly increasing the combat readiness of its air forces and is undergoing major combat training.
“On the other hand, India considers the new fighters it acquired from France (Rafale) to be more advanced than the Chinese fighters (J-20),” they said.
Although the Rafale has stealth features in the structure and wings that are designed to absorb radar rays significantly, it is not classified as a stealth fighter like the American F-35.
The report from the Chinese publication, Global Times, classifies the Rafale fighters as among the “third generation fighters”, while the J-20 is classified as a fourth generation fighter.
Tensions between India and China have been at a three-year-long high after several clashes along the disputed border in the Ladakh area.