This September seems to be a very crucial month for the Indian Air Force. After the induction of Apache choppers at Pathankot airbase on Tuesday, the Indian Air Force is finally getting the much-awaited Rafale fighter jets. According to a report by the Hindustan Times, IAF will get its first Rafale combat plane on September 19. Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will also attend the induction ceremony, which will be held at Merignac in France, the HT report said..
While Rafale induction in the month of September was fairly well-known, this is the first time that the exact schedule has come in media. 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.
The Indian Air Force is looking forward to Rafales as they would help in plugging the fleet crunch. Experts say that the IAF has just 31 fighter squadrons as opposed to the required strength of 42. Case of two-front battle will be a Herculean task for India in current scenario.
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.
The Indian Air Force is all set to receive its first Rafale combat aircraft in its "Golden Arrows" 17 Squadron which was commanded by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa during the Kargil war in 1999. "The first unit to receive the Rafale combat aircraft would be the 17 Squadron which was earlier located in Bhatinda in Punjab and will now be shifted to Ambala in Haryana," IAF sources told ANI.