France is likely to offer 36 more Rafale aircraft to India during Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s visit to the nation for the G-7 summit, Economic Times reports.
PM Modi will be meeting the French President Emmanuel Macron during the visit and the French side is likely to put on offer an immediate sale of 36 more Rafale fighters. The cost for the additional jets is also slated to be lesser than the original deal as costs for India specific enhancements and equipment has already been covered.
The IAF is grappling with a shortage of airplanes with the current squadron strength standing at just 30, far less than the 42 it requires to cover a two-front war with China and Pakistan as per its estimates. The deal, if it materialises, will bring in two more squadrons of the jets in addition to the two already under induction.
Earlier in September 2016, India had signed an inter-governmental pact with France for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. The first of the French fighter jets will be received by India on 20 September as per reports.
The IAF has already completed the preparations to induct the fighter aircraft in its fleet, including readying required infrastructure and training the pilots.
The strategically located Ambala air force station, which is around 220 km from the Indo-Pak border, in Haryana will host the first squadron of the Rafale jets, according to the sources. The second squadron of the French jet will be stationed at Hasimara air base in West Bengal.