India May Deploy Rafale Fighters On The Border With China
The Indian air force is considering deploying the latest French Rafale fighters on the border with China in Eastern Ladakh, according to the Hindustan Times newspaper, citing military sources.
"This prospect will be considered at a meeting of the air force command in new Delhi on July 22 - 24," the article says. "Rafale fighters may be deployed along the line of actual control with China to strengthen the operational capabilities of the Indian armed forces, despite the withdrawal of Indian and Chinese troops in Eastern Ladakh."
"This is a complex and lengthy process, which was affected by the lack of mutual trust between the parties," the newspaper quotes the sources as saying.
According to the publication, France, in response to India's request to speed up the delivery of Rafale fighters, will hand over their next batch on July 27. Instead of four planes, as planned, it will include six fighters. To date, the Indian air force has four Rafale fighters.
In September 2016, India ordered 36 aircraft of this type from France for $6.5 billion. According to the original delivery schedule, the first 18 aircraft were to be delivered to India by February 2021, and the rest were expected in April-may 2022. However, due to the military confrontation between India and China in Eastern Ladakh, it was decided to speed up their deliveries. India has now deployed MiG-29, su-30MKI, Apache attack helicopters, and CH-47F Chinook multi-role helicopters to the East of Ladakh.
The situation in Eastern Ladakh escalated after clashes between Chinese and Indian soldiers took place there in May and June. At least 20 Indian soldiers and about 45 Chinese soldiers were killed in them. After that, India and China increased the concentration of their troops in the area. In early July, after bilateral negotiations, the gradual withdrawal of Chinese and Indian troops from the line of actual control began.