India signed an intergovernmental agreement with France in September 2016 to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.
“The contractual delivery schedule for Rafale aircraft has been fully respected so far, and, in fact, a new aircraft was delivered to the Indian Air Force in late April in France, in accordance with the contract,” Lenain told PTI .
On October 8, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh received the first Rafale jet at an air base in France.
“We are helping the Indian Air Force organize the ferry flight of their first four Rafales from France to India as soon as possible. So there is no reason today to speculate that the timetable will not be met, “said the envoy.
France is shaken by the swelling coronavirus cases and has become one of the most affected in Europe. More than 1,45,000 people were infected with the virus while the death toll was 28,330.
There were concerns that the delivery of Rafale aircraft would be delayed due to the pandemic. However, Lenain stated that the original jet delivery schedule will be respected.
The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of powerful weapons. Meteor, beyond the air-to-air missile with visual range and the cruise missile Scalp, of the European missile manufacturer MBDA will be the pillar of the arming of the Rafale planes.
Meteor is the next generation of BVR air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionize air-to-air combat. The weapon was developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden.
In addition to the missile systems, the Rafale jets will be delivered with various modifications specific to India, including screens mounted on an Israeli helmet, radar alert receivers, low-band jammers, flight data recording of 10 hours, infrared research and tracking systems.
The IAF has already completed preparations, including the preparation of the required infrastructure and the training of pilots, to accommodate the fighter aircraft.
The plane’s first squadron will be stationed at Ambala Air Force Station, considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF. The Indo-Pak border is approximately 220 km away.
The second Rafale squadron will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal.
The IAF spent around Rs 400 crore to develop the required infrastructure such as shelters, hangars and maintenance facilities on the two bases. Out of 36 Rafale planes, 30 will be fighter planes and six will be trainers. The training aircraft will be two-seater with almost all the characteristics of fighter aircraft.
Congress has raised questions about the deal, including airfares, and alleged corruption, but the government has dismissed the charges.