Comparing Rafale fighters to it’s Chinese counterpart Chengdu J-10, Chinese news agency Xinhua said the Rafale jets add a definite edge to the striking capabilities of the Indian armed forces.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his recent visit to France, had announced a plan to buy 36 Rafales, after three years of winding negotiations. HT was the first to report about the government going for a government-to-government route to buy the fighters.
Xinhua said the French multi-role fighters’ aerodynamic design, avionics and engines are superior to the Chengdu J-10.
The J-10 multi-role fighter is the first Chinese-developed combat aircraft that stands closer to Western fighters in terms of performance and capabilities. It is known as Vigorous Dragon in China and as Firebird in the West.
Xinhua said Rafale, made by Dassault Aviation, stands out from other fighters in its ability to carry the ASMP-A — a cruise missile that can be fired as a warning shot before a nuclear strike. The effective means to deploy a nuclear weapon is a crucial aspect of a credible deterrent.
Some analysts have slammed the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighters, saying it had dealt a blow to the ‘Make in India’ programme. Strategic affairs expert Bharat Karnad called the deal a “regression” that has torpedoed the government’s ‘Make in India’ thrust.
The Indian Air Force’s sanctioned strength is 42 squadrons but it currently operates only 34 with the Russian-origin Sukhoi 30 MKI and the Soviet-era MiG-21. Eight MiG-21 squadrons are to be phased out in eight years.