Gwalior: The capabilities of the Rafale fighter jet are twice that of the Mirage 2000 warplane, Air Marshal R Nambiar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command, said on Monday. "Rafale offers a wide variety of capabilities something which is double than what Mirage 2000 can do. We will be supreme in the sky when Rafale comes to our theatre. We will have air dominance or maybe air supremacy in this side of the world," he told ANI here.
The first of the 36 Rafale aircraft India is buying from France is expected to be handed over to the Indian Air Force in September this year. Nambiar, who flew Mirage 2000 sorties during the Kargil conflict, said, "I have a great sense of achievement that Kargil happened and the way it turned out finally...At the beginning of the Kargil war, the IAF lost two fighter aircraft and one helicopter. Our morale was in the dumps. Looking back at history I am elated and delighted that it turned out so well."
He also said that the induction of the Mirage 2000 aircraft into the IAF was a game changer in the way air battle is fought in terms of accuracy, precision and fire-power. Comparing the laser-guided bomb to the SPICE missile which was used during the Balakot air strike, Nambiar said, "For short range, that is, for 10 km-range from the target, we can use the laser-guided bomb. But if the target is defended by boundary which you do not want to cross and escape air defence missile system, then SPICE is the choice, as it has a 60 km-range."
On the change in tactics from Kargil to Balakot, he said that today`s weapons have a far longer range and are beyond visual range. "Our visual range could go up to 18 km but today a weapon system can go 10 times that. Tactics have to be changed and adapted to the present and powerful systems. A new induction will enhance our capability and we need to tune ourselves to a new missile and aircraft," he said.
On Pakistan`s claim on Balakot, Nambiar said, "My chief has mentioned that the Balakot strike was successful and people who know best about it are Pakistanis. I suggest you ask them how successful it was."
Commemorating 20 years of the Kargil conflict, the IAF at its Gwalior airbase recreated the Tiger Hill attack and displayed aircraft used during `Operation Vijay`. Five Mirage 2000, two MiG 21s and one Sukhoi 30 MKI were on static display at the air force station, besides the SPICE bomb.