The long wait of the Indian Air force for the Rafale fighter jets is finally ending soon. If all things go as per the plan, the Indian Air Force will get the fighter jets in September later this year. Now, a media report has revealed the exact date of the crucial handover of the fighter jets. According to ‘The Hindustan Times’ report, the Rafale combat jet will be inducted in the Indian Air Force between ‘September 18 and 23.’ The HT report says that France will hand over the first combat jet on September 20.
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.