France delivered the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets to India
New Delhi has taken delivery of first of the 36 ordered Dassault Rafales, achieving its decades-long quest to obtain new fighter jets. However, Indian Air Force still has a long way to go in terms of gradually replacing its ageing fleet.
The jets were handed over to Indian defence minister Raksha Mantri on October 8 at a ceremony held at Dassault’s Merignac production line near Bordeaux in southwest France. After the handover, Singh also flew a sortie in the aircraft.
The first jet will, however, be seen over Indian skies only in May next year.
IAF chief R.K.S. Bhadauria said the induction of the Rafale would be a “game changer” for the IAF.
“The Indian Air Force is on the path of rapid modernization through acquisition of crucial technologies and critical capabilities such as the Rafale fighter aircraft, S-400 surface-to-air missile (defence system from Russia), precision weapons, advanced electronics and early warning systems, to name a few,” he said.
#RafaleInduction : Hon’ble Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, officially received the first of the 36 Rafale aircraft for IAF today. He is accompanied by Air Marshal HS Arora, Vice Chief of the Air Staff, for the formal acceptance ceremony of the aircraft at Bordeaux, France. pic.twitter.com/DOlBGcmcMG
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) October 8, 2019
India is the fourth country after France, Egypt and Qatar, to fly the Rafale. In September 2016, India signed the agreement with the French government for purchase of Rafale aircraft.
The $8.78 billion deal sparked controversy in India last year with the opposition party Indian National Congress blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of buying the aircraft at nearly three times the price being negotiated when it was the ruling party before Modi came to power in 2014.