Tribune press service
Chandigarh, July 27
Flying nearly half the world from France to India, the IAF’s last warbird, Rafale, is said to have spent more than 10 hours in the air on two continents before landing its new nest in Ambala to provide a boost to the country’s air power.
The direct distance on the map between Mérignac in France and Al Dofra Air Base in Abu Dabhi is 5,430 km. As the IAF fighters will not be flying over Pakistan, they will first strike the Gujarat coast after taking off from Al Dofra, then turn north.
The direct distance from Al Dofra to Jamnagar is 1,610 km and from Jamnagar to Ambala is 1,100 km.
It is approximately 8,140 km from origin to destination. Aircraft never fly directly between two locations and the route includes multiple waypoints, depending on airspace availability, restricted areas, international treaties, etc., where they are supposed to make turns or change directions. cap.
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Ambala is preparing to receive the first 5 Rafale jets from the IAF
Given that the exact route of air traffic taken by the Rafales is known and that they must fly over several countries, the route would likely be somewhat longer than the direct distances between the aforementioned locations.
According to a fighter pilot, the cruising speed of planes on long-distance ferry missions is around 14 km per minute, which translates to 840 km per hour. If Rafales have to cover a total distance of more than 8,140 km, pilots could end up spending more than 10 hours in the cockpit, but in two phases. Starting procedures, charging time, overhead avoidances and approach should also be taken into account.
The Rafale has a maximum speed of 2,223 km / h at high altitude and 1,390 km / h at low altitude. Photos of the IAF Rafale taking off from France showed they were fitted with three drop tanks for additional fuel – one under each wing and one on the centerline of the belly, giving them a range of around 3,700 km. A French Air Force tanker would provide in-flight refueling support during the Mérignac – Abu Dabhi leg, which IAF officers say would be carried over the Mediterranean Sea, closer from the Egyptian or Israeli coasts.
The section from Abu Dabhi to Ambala, via Gujarat, can be traveled without in-flight refueling.
In recent times, IAF pilots have flown long-range fighters several times before when SU-30s and Jaguars have traveled to Europe and North America for joint military exercises. The IAF IL-78 aerial refuelers accompanied them. There have been cases in the past where newly purchased hunters have come from Europe after making several stops en route.
The continuous flight of a fighter for several hours has physical, psychological and physiological implications for pilots. Unlike a transport aircraft, a fighter’s cockpit is cramped with no room for bodily movement, and the physical and mental demands of a fighter’s piloting and the endurance required are greater than those of large planes.
Once the five planes, three single-seaters and two two-seat trainers, land at Ambala Air Force Base and are inducted into 17th Squadron, the Golden Arrows, all will be well.
While the first batch of the aircraft and the pilots and ground personnel accompanying them are expected to be fully operational, their immediate task would be to train and indoctrinate additional pilots and ground personnel as and when more and more aircraft are arriving. and more officers and airmen would be affected.