A noted defence site’s report on Qatar may spell trouble for the Indian Air Force. According to ainonline.com, an independent media portal that reports about defence news, Pakistani pilots were reportedly given training to fly Rafale fighter jets. “The first batch of pilots trained for Qatar in November 2017 were Pakistani exchange officers,” the site said. The report, which focussed on Dassault handing over Rafale to the Qatari Air Force, also had the line that has not been verified by Dassault so far. According to an NDTV report, the French aviation major’s India officials said that they were not aware of any such training. Meanwhile, French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler rejects media report that Pakistani Air Force pilots were trained on Rafale jets.
This might not be that odd as it may sound like. Because Pakistani troopers have been part of multiple operations across nations in the West Asia region. Qatar signed a €6.3 billion agreement for the purchase of 24 Rafales (six of them two-seat trainers) in May 2015. “Qatar’s Rafales differ in detail from those delivered to France and Egypt, and integration of the Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pod and Elbit Systems TARGO-II helmet-mounted target designation system required extensive testing,” the ainonline.com report said.
The fighter jets will be delivered to India sometime in October later this year. There are reports that the Indian Air Force is planning to deploy Rafale fighter jets at strategic air bases near Pakistan and China. As part of change in the current structure, the Indian Air Force will deploy Rafale squadrons at Haryana’s Ambala and West Bengal’s Hashimpura bases respectively. At present, the number 3 ‘Cobra’ squadron of MiG-21 Bison fighter jets has been deployed in Ambala since 1997. But with Rafale taking over the fighter base in next two years, the ‘Cobra’ squadron will be shifted to Rajasthan’s Nal air base.
The air force has almost completed the shifting process soon Ambala skies won’t see the famous MiG-21 fighter jets. The air force has also confirmed the development.
After India signed the multi-billion fighter jet deal, the Indian Air Force has been planning to replace the aging fighter jets. The strategic deployment will help India in protecting her Western and Eastern front. With Pakistan in the West and China in the East, the Rafale deployment will help India in achieving a formidable position. To protect its skies, India has so far been relying on the Sukhoi-30MKIs. However, the Indian Air Force regards Rafale higher than the current lot of fighter jets.