New Delhi: The second batch of Rafale fighter jets – probably four in number – are expected to arrive at Ambala airbase in October as part of the Rs 59,000 crore deal with the French government, ThePrint has learned.
They will land here after the official induction ceremony for the first five Rafale fighters, to be held on September 10. The ceremony will be attended by Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart Florence Parly.
Sources within the defense and security establishment said the French defense minister had already confirmed his presence.
Sources said once the ceremony is over, the next group of Rafale fighters will arrive in October. « The next group of fighters, which will likely number four, will arrive in the country in October, ”a source said.
Five Rafale jets, including two two-seater, had landed July 29 at Ambala air base, headquarters of the first French fighter squadron.
They had traveled 8,500 km from Mérignac in France, with a stopover in the United Arab Emirates.
Known as the Generation 4.5 aircraft, the Gust is considered one of the best fighters in the world and is described as an “omnirole” aircraft that can perform multiple missions in a single flight.
While India ordered 36 Rafale fighters in 2016, the numbers are simply too low for the IAF, which currently has a force of 31 squadrons against the sanctioned one of the 42 squadrons.
Even though the IAF is slated to release a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) 2.0 for 114 fighters, work has been rather slow and an official tender has yet to be released.
ThePrint had reported that this tender could take time and that the main objective at present is to confirm the order of 83 LCA Tejas Mk 1A.
Meanwhile, talks about 36 additional Rafale fighters also circled the defense corridors.
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