The first batch of five Rafale planes arrived in India on July 29, nearly four years after India signed an intergovernmental agreement with France to purchase 36 of these planes at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
Several IAF teams have visited France since January to oversee the progress of Project Rafale, including the integration of India-specific enhancements and weapon systems, officials said.
The IAF Rafale project management team has an office in Paris headed by an officer in the rank of group captain. The team is responsible for overseeing production deadlines as well as coordinating team training.
A team of experts led by the deputy chief of the air staff (projects) arrived in France earlier this week to coordinate logistics issues as well as the training of pilots and technicians, officials said.
The first batch of Rafale jets were finally introduced to the IAF on September 10.
On October 5, Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal RKS Bhadauria said the induction of the 36 Rafale planes would be completed by 2023.
So far, ten Rafale planes have been delivered to India and five of them have remained in France to provide training to IAF pilots.
Known for their air superiority and precision strikes, the Rafale aircraft are India’s first major acquisition of fighter jets in 23 years after the importation of Sukhoi aircraft from Russia.
The newly inducted fleet is conducting sorties in eastern Ladakh, where Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a bitter border conflict for more than five months.
A group of IAF pilots are currently training on Rafale aircraft at the Saint-Dizier air base in eastern France.