Defence Minister Rajnath Singh along with defence secretary Ajay Kumar and other senior officials will receive the first batch of the Rafale aircraft from France on October 8 on the occasion of Dussehra.
“8 October is auspicious for two reasons. It is both Dussehra and Air Force day on that day,” government sources were quoted in the report as saying.
It’s been three years since India signed a deal with the French government for 36 Rafale jets. Rafael is manufactured by Dassault Aviation SA, French aircraft manufacturer of military, regional, and business jets, and is a subsidiary of Dassault Group.
India inked a 36-fighter jet deal with the French manufacturer for over Euro 7.8 billion in September 2016 to arrest the fall of combat squadrons and meet urgent requirements on eastern and western fronts.
Earlier it was reported that Defence Minister and Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa would lead a large contingent of the Indian government to receive Rafale jets on September 20. However, there seems to be a change of plan as now it is being reported that an IAF team will be travelling to France at the same time to sign documents with the French officials, after which Indian pilots will start training on the Rafale planes.
“Once they start training, they may also fly the aircraft once the Defence Minister and his team reach the location near Bordeaux,” the sources said.
According to reports, though the induction of Rafale into the IAF will officially take place on October 8, the jets will start arriving in India from May 2020. The jets will arrive after accommodating the modifications as per the Indian specifications, and training of pilots and personnel in France.
Although small batches of Indian pilots have been trained on French Air Force planes already, IAF would train 24 more pilots in various batches to be able to fly the much-awaited Rafales from May next year.
Ambala in Haryana and Hashimara in West Bengal will be the airbases where the IAF will deploy one squadron each of the Rafale.