First five Rafale jets enroute India: All details here
Years after India inked a deal with France for 36 Rafale jets, the first lot of five jets took off from Merignac airbase in Bordeaux today, ushering in a new phase in bilateral ties of both countries. They will land in India on July 29, after covering a distance of 7,000 kilometer. During the journey, the jets will have only one stop-over at UAE.
India signed over Rs. 50,000 crore deal for the jets
India had inked a Rs. 59,000 crore deal with the European country in 2016 to procure tailor-made jets. Aimed at improving the Indian Air Force's fleet, the Rafale jets have Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, and low-band jammers. A 10-hour flight data recording and infra-red search also add to its glory. On its part, IAF has completed the preparations to accommodate these jets.
Beauty and the beast: Indian Embassy tweeted visuals from base
The jets took off in the presence of Jawed Ashraf, the Indian Ambassador to France. Ashraf also interacted with the trained Indian pilots and congratulated them for flying the most advanced fighter aircraft, which are manufactured by the French company Dassault Aviation. The Indian consulate in France tweeted a video from the airbase calling the aircraft "beauty and the beast."
All jets will be delivered on time: Embassy
"Delivery of ten aircraft has been completed on schedule. Five will stay back in France for training Mission. The delivery of all thirty-six aircraft will be completed on schedule by the end of 2021," the Indian Embassy said in a press note.
"Ready to take off"
"Beauty and the Beast"- #Rafale Fighter Aircraft. Ready to take off @MEAIndia @JawedAshraf5 @gouvernementFR @Dassault_OnAir @rajnathsingh @DefenceMinIndia @DDNewslive @ANI @DrSJaishankar @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/TTAi6DHun7— India in France (@Indian_Embassy) July 27, 2020
Jets won't wait, will be immediately armed with HAMMER missiles
As per reports, METEOR, a missile made by European company MBDA and SCALP cruise missiles will remain a part of weapons' package of Rafale jets. Considering the current situation at LAC, IAF has decided to immediately arm the Rafale jets with HAMMER missiles. It was earlier decided to be armed with SPICE 2000 missiles, but that process would have taken some time.
In October, Rajnath Singh took part in handover event
The arrival of jets at Ambala airbase comes months after Defense Minister Rajnath Singh paid a visit to France. In October, Singh participated in the handover event, performed a pooja of the jets, and also took a sortie. "Today marks a new milestone in India-France strategic partnership. I am confident that this will add further strength to our Air Force," he said back then.
Last year, Rafale was mired in a huge political row
It's pertinent to highlight that the jets are coming to India after a huge political controversy, led by Congress' Rahul Gandhi. Before 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Rahul launched a concerted attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for involving industrialist Anil Ambani's company in the manufacturing process. He alleged corruption in the deal, spoke about it during rallies, but BJP denied any wrongdoing.
Congress dragged BJP to Supreme Court, but to no avail
Notably, a row before elections sparked despite the Supreme Court announcing in December 2018 that it was content with how PM Modi's government signed the deal with France. Displeased, Congress again took BJP to SC asking for a review, but the apex court stood by its earlier order. In fact, while defending itself, BJP reminded Congress of corruption scandals during its rule.