After a long wait, the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Thursday received its first ‘acceptance’ Rafale combat aircraft from Dassault Aviation in France, said Deputy Air Force Chief Air Marshal VR Chaudhary. According to ANI, Chaudhary also flew in the aircraft for around one hour.
India had ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore on September 23, 2016. The mega defence deal was at the centre of massive political controversy with the Congress and the other Opposition parties alleging corruption by the Modi government in the deal.
Speaking about the fighter jets, the Defence Ministry had said that Rafale aircraft will provide the Indian Air Force strategic deterrence and requisite capability to engage targets at long ranges.
India has signed an agreement to purchase two squadrons (36) of the twin-engine multi-role aircraft, capable of delivering nuclear warheads, and decided to base one each on its western and eastern fronts with Pakistan and China.
Strategic deterrence is a strategy under which a country uses the threat of reprisal effectively to preclude an attack from an adversary. Last year, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa had termed the introduction of the Rafale and the Russian S-400 missile defence system as "game-changer".
Recently, French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler had said that the first Rafale fighter aircraft will be delivered within two months and it will be "perfectly on time".
The senior diplomat told PTI on the sidelines of a function here that all 36 Rafale jets will be delivered to the Indian Air Force within the next two years. Calling it an excellent aircraft, he said it would add a lot to the capacity of the Indian Air Force.