The IAF team in France is preparing to introduce more Rafale | News from India


NEW DELHI: As it prepares to introduce a second batch of Rafale jets, the Indian Air Force has sent a team of officials to France to oversee logistical issues and review the training of a group of handpicked pilots to Saint-Dizier air base there, officials said Thursday.
The second batch of four Rafale jets is expected to arrive in India within the next four weeks.
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 inducted into the IAF on September 10.
Chief of Air Staff Air On October 5, Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria declared that the induction of the 36 Rafale jets 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, Rafale jets are the first major acquisition of fighter jets in India in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.
The newly enthroned fleet has made sorties into 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.

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