Three of the last four Rafale jets to arrive on Feb 1-2: IAF Chief


Indian Air Force is all set to receive the last four Rafale fighters from France from February with all of them fully equipped with India-specific enhancements. These specific enhancements will give extra teeth to fight any regional adversary. 

Depending upon the weather conditions, three Rafale fighters are planning to depart Istres-Le Tube air base, north-west of Marseille in south France, on February 1-2 and will arrive in India after receiving mid-flight refueling from a close ally, the UAE Air Force, using Airbus multi-role transport tankers.

After the deliveries from France commenced, the last of the 36 contractual fighters was the first fighter used for training IAF personnel. During Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar’s visit to France in December 2021 for a high-level defence dialogue, he examined this fighter at the Istres air base.

“India was thankful to France for timely deliveries. The contract was for 36 aircraft, 32 of which have been delivered. Out of the remaining four, 3 will arrive on time in February,” said the IAF chief while addressing a press conference in Dundigal after reviewing the Combined Graduation Parade at Dundigal Air Force Academy.

“Last aircraft which will have India-specific enhancements will be delivered after all its trials conclude. We discussed with the Defence Minister, future maintenance issues of Rafale & setting up of D-level maintenance in India,” IAF Chief said.

“The Air Force will continue to maintain deployment. We are prepared to take on any challenge that we may face in the area,” he further said.

In 2016, India signed its largest-ever defence contract with France, which included the induction of 36 Rafale fighter jets into the Indian Air Force. More than 30 jets have already arrived, with the final ones expected to arrive early next year.

The IAF will test the precise enhancements to their satisfaction under Indian conditions once the fighter jets arrive, in addition to verifying the original equipment manufacturers’ promises as per the agreement. Following that, work on retrofitting the other 32 aircraft at Ambala in the western sector and Hashimara in the eastern sector with India-specific enhancements and all related equipment already with the IAF will begin. The upgrade will take place at Ambala Air Base in India, which has a maintenance and repair facility for Rafale fighters.

In response to India’s procurement of Rafale jets, Pakistan’s air force has decided to acquire 25 Chinese-made J-10 multi-role fighters, while the PLA Air Force has deployed the J-20, termed the “fifth-generation fighter,” at air stations in Tibet and Sinkiang.

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