Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa are set to receive the first batch of Rafale fighter jet manufactured by French firm Dassault Aviation on September 20. Both the Defence Minister and IAF chief will be in France in September for the delivery of the Rafale jets. India had signed a deal with the French government and Dassault Aviation in September 2016 for 36 Rafale fighter jets for over Euro 7.8 billion, which will start arriving India from May next year
Speaking in the matter, a defence official stated that a large Indian contingent led by Rajnath Singh will be sent to France to accept the Rafale plane in the third week of September. A ceremony will be held for the occasion, which is likely to be attended by French government officials. Rajnath Singh and the IAF Chief will be receiving the first aircraft from the French authorities near the plane manufacturing plant in Bordeaux.
As per news agency ANI, the Indian planes have been equipped with a lot of India specific enhancements, which have been fitted at a cost of around one billion euros. Though small batches of Indian pilots have already trained on the French Air Force planes, the Indian Air Force would train 24 pilots in three different batches till next year May for flying the Indian Rafales.
As soon as acquiring, the IAF will deploy one each squadron of the Rafale combat aircraft at its airbases in Haryana's Ambala and Bengal's Hashimara. Ambala base has been housing Jaguar aircraft squadrons mainly looking after the Pakistan front but due to rapid deployment capabilities, the planes can be utilised on both the fronts in case of requirement.
(With agency inputs)