IAF chief to flag off Rafale jets during France visit

Chief of Air Staff R.K.S. Bhadauria. File Photo.  

Chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) R.K.S. Bhadauria, who departed on a five-day visit to France on Monday, will flag off the next batch of Rafale fighter jets to India, according to a defence source.

“The Air Chief will flag off the next batch of 3 or 4 Rafale jets,” a defence source said. These jets once inducted into service will complete the first Rafale squadron No. 17 Golden Arrows based at Ambala.

As reported by The Hindu, India will receive another 8 to 9 Rafale jets from France by mid-May. The IAF has so far inducted 14 jets which arrived in four batches and is also set to operationalise the second Rafale squadron at Hasimara in West Bengal. Last September, the IAF inducted the batch of five Rafales of 36 jets contracted from France under a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement signed in September 2016.

The CAS will hold meetings and discussions with senior military leadership of France and visit operational facilities and airbases, an IAF statement said, adding, the visit comes after Gen. Philippe Lavigne, Chief of Staff, French Air and Space Force (FASF), visited India in February 2020. The visit of ACM Bhadauria from April 19 to 23 will enhance potential avenues for strengthening the level of interaction between the two Air Forces, it stated.

The IAF and the FASF engage in the bilateral air exercise series ‘Garuda’, as well as hop exercises, the last being Ex Desert Knight 21 held at the Air Force Station Jodhpur in January 2021. The two also participated in Exercise Desert Flag hosted by the UAE Air Force along with other friendly countries in March 2021.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was in Delhi last week during which he held talks with his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar.

The visit also comes few weeks after a three-part investigative series by French media outlet Mediapart revealed, based on French anti-corruption agency audit, how French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation had paid € 1 million to an Indian company owned by a middleman Sushen Gupta in connection with the Rafale deal. The articles also detailed how Mr. Gupta obtained crucial documents on the Indian negotiating team involved in the Rafale deal and supplied them to Dassault Aviation.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 2:10:49 AM |

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