India to have first Rafale base in Ambala by 2019
India is all set to have its first Rafale base in Ambala, Haryana. In a major infrastructural boost, India will spend about Rs. 227 crore to deploy the squadron. Named Golden Arrow, it will have 14 Rafale aircraft shelters by 2019. Since Rafale jets can carry nuclear weapons and missiles, the under-works Ambala base is expected to give India greater "potency" over Pakistan.
The 78- year-old Ambala base is 220 km from the Indo-Pak border, making it one of the most strategically located bases of the air force. With the integration of Rafale combat jets at the Ambala base, IAF would be able to hit targets inside Pakistan, and across the northern and eastern borders without leaving India's territorial boundary.
India signed a Rs. 59,000 crore deal with France in September 2016 to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets. The first squadron of 18 combat jets will be stationed in Ambala. The next 18 jets will be deployed at West Bengal's Hasimara base, which is also being upgraded. Among other provisions for the crew, both the stations will also have simulator-based training facilities.
With its 150km-range Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor air-to-air missile, the Rafale fighter jets will be strategic weapons for the IAF. The combat jets will come modified according to India's specifications. Among other things, they will have Israeli helmet mounted displays, low band jammers, 10 hour flight data recording, radar warning receivers, infra-red search and tracking systems.
The Indian Air Force is currently 10 squadrons short of the sanctioned strength of 44. The first pilots to fly are currently being trained by France's Dassault Aviation. The first commander of independent India's Ambala base was Marshal Arjan Singh. He passed away last month.