The 36 Rafale fighter jets, which India contracted for in a deal with France in 2016 at the cost of nearly Rs 58,000 crore, will start arriving in the country in September 2019. With less than a year remaining, work at the Dassault Aviation facility in France is progressing in full swing.
During her recent visit to France, which came amid a barrage of allegations of corruption against the government and irregularities in the deal, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited the facility near Paris where the French firm is building the fighters meant for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
First pictures of the fighters being manufactured by Dassault Aviation for the IAF have emerged during the Defence Minister’s visit to France.
The IAF has been quietly preparing to welcome the new fighter jets.
According to The Hindu, the IAF has been readying the infrastructure required for the new fleet. Air Force stations in Haryana’s Ambala and West Bengal’s Hasimara will house a squadron (18 planes) each of Rafale fighters. The first squadron of the aircraft will be deployed at Ambala, a strategically located bases of the IAF nearly 220 km from the border with Pakistan. The base is also home to India’s Jaguar fighter-bomber fleet. To house Rafales at the base, the IAF is constructing hangers, hardened concrete shelters and maintenance facilities at these bases. The government has sanctioned Rs 400 crore for this purpose.
A new building is coming up at the Ambala air base, which will house the training simulators built by French firm Sogitec, Livefist had reported earlier.
The IAF has dispatched a six-member hand-picked team to France to train on Rafale fighter planes, Hindustan Times has reported. The team, which left for France last month, has a fighter pilot, an engineer and four technicians. It will receive training at the Saint-Dizier air base in eastern France. According to an official quoted by the daily, the IAF will send multiple teams for training. These teams will be responsible for flying the aircraft back home, the official said.
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