India to receive first batch of 4 Rafales by July-end
The first batch of four Rafale fighter jets are scheduled to arrive in India in July last week amid continuing tensions on the border with China.
The four Rafale aircraft are scheduled to depart from France on July 27 and fly to India with a stopover at the Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a defence source said. There was a possibility of one more aircraft being delivered but was not confirmed yet, a second source said.
As reported by The Hindu on April 13, the arrival of the first batch of jets was delayed from May to July due to the COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown in both India and France. About 8-9 weeks of training was left before the lockdown and delivery of some logistic support and test equipment at the Ambala air base was also delayed.
In October 2019, on a visit to France for the 2nd India-France ministerial level annual defence dialogue, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took formal delivery of the first Rafale jet built for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Dassault Aviation’s final assembly facility in Merignac.
The Defence Ministry had stated that during the dialogue, the French side agreed to consider India’s request for 8-10 Meteor missiles to be given by 2020 with the first four aircraft.
While the IAF is particularly keen on accelerating the delivery of these missiles, given the ongoing tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, there is still no clarity on how many of these would be delivered along with the first batch of aircraft.
India has contracted 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets from France in fly-away condition with 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE) under a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed in September 2016. As per the IGA, deliveries begin 36 months from the signing of the contract and completed in 67 months. However, the Indian standard Rafale with all ISE is operationally expected to be ready latest by September 2021.