France to hand over 1st Rafale Jet on October 8
India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016.
France will hand over the Indian Air Force its first Rafale fighter jet on October 8, two government officials said on Wednesday. Defence minister Rajnath Singh will travel to Merignac in France along with senior air force officials for the induction ceremony, which will coincide with the IAF Day.
The ceremony was supposed to take place on September 19 but it was deferred due to last-minute changes in the programme, said one of the officials cited above. The induction will take place barely a week after the IAF gets a new chief as Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa retires on September 30. The government is yet to announce his successor. It is unlikely that the new IAF chief will travel to France as several ceremonial functions, including a parade and an ‘at home’, are part of the IAF Day celebrations, said the second official.
India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016. While the formal induction will happen on October 8, the first batch of four Rafale jets will fly to their home base in India only next April-May. All 36 fighter planes will arrive by September 2022, a small step on the long road towards building a stronger air force.
The two Rafale squadrons will be based at Ambala in Haryana and Hasimara in West Bengal, covering the western and eastern fronts. The Rafale will be the first imported fighter jet to be inducted into the IAF in 22 years after the Russian Sukhoi-30 fighters. The first Su-30 entered IAF service in June 1997.