IAF to get first batch of Rafale jets by July-end
The Indian Air Force is likely to get the delivery of the first batch of four Rafale jets from France by July-end, people aware of the developments said on Friday.
The four fighters were supposed to fly to their home base in India in May 2020, but the plan was delayed due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak. Confinement measures announced by France to battle the outbreak temporarily halted production at aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation’s Merignac facility.
India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016 as an emergency purchase to arrest the worrying slide in the air force’s combat capabilities.
According to the delivery schedule, the first 18 jets (including the four in the first batch) are supposed to be delivered to the IAF by February 2021, with the rest expected by April-May 2022.
France handed over to India its first Rafale fighter during a ceremony attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart, Florence Parly, in Merignac on October 8, 2019, which coincided with the IAF’s 87th founding day.