India receives first ‘acceptance’ Rafale fighter jet from France
New Delhi, Sep 20: The Indian Air Force (IAF) received its first 'acceptance' Rafale combat aircraft from Dassault Aviation in France on Thursday, as per ANI. The fighter jet was received by Deputy Chief Air Marshal Chaudhary during his visit to France on Thursday.
Notably, Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, who was appointed as the next Indian Ari Force chief on Thursday, was instrumental in steering the Rafale jet deal between India and France and was also among the first IAF officials to fly the jet.
India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.
The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons and missiles.
The IAF has already completed preparations, including readying required infrastructure and training of pilots, to welcome the fighter aircraft.
Acoording to reports, the first squadron of the aircraft will be deployed at Ambala air force station, considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF. The Indo-Pak border is around 220 km from there.
The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal.
A number of IAF teams have already visited France to help Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale, incorporate India-specific enhancements on-board the fighter aircraft.
The Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others.
The Congress raised several questions about the deal, including on rates of the aircraft, and alleged corruption but the government has rejected the charges.
The IAF spent around Rs 400 crore to develop required infrastructure like shelters, hangers and maintenance facilities at the two bases.
In July 2017, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, during his visit to France, flew a Rafale jet at the Saint-Dizier airbase to gain first-hand experience of the aircraft.
According to the deal, the delivery of the jets was to be completed in 67 months from the date the contract was inked.