India Gets Its 1st of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets From France
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today received the first of the 36 long-awaited Rafale fighter jets on behalf of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Speaking at the event, Defence Minister termed the developments as “historic” and said that it will go a long way in strengthening strategic-ties between India and France. This is a new milestone in bilateral ties, said Rajnath Singh.
India had signed an agreement with France for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of Rs. 59,000 crore in September 2016. The first batch of four jets will come next May.
Commenting on the positives of this- receiving Rafale from France, Singh said it will enhance the capabilities of the Indian Air Force and lay a global blueprint for successful defence cooperation between two responsible states. He also thanked the French state for providing support and training to Indian Air force pilots.
The fighters — to be armed with the SCALP ground attack missiles that have a range well over 300 km — will be flown by IAF pilots in France for at least 1,500 hours as part of the testing and acceptance process before they come to their home base in Ambala. The first batch of four combat jets is expected to be ferried to India by May.
While the formal handover ceremony takes place this week, the first batch of four Rafale jets will fly to their home base in India by May 2020. All 36 jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022, for which the IAF has been reportedly undertaking preparations, including readying required infrastructure and training of pilots.
On Wednesday, Rajnath Singh is scheduled to address CEOs representing leading French defence industry enterprises. As part of a wider ‘Make in India’ message, Singh will invite them to participate in the DefExpo to be held in Lucknow from February 5 to 8 next year.