French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler rubbished a media report which claimed that Pakistani fighter pilots were being trained to fly Dassault Rafale fighter jets in Qatar.
“I can confirm that it is fake news,” tweeted Ziegler.
I can confirm that it is fake news. https://t.co/3XpPnfPqUc
— Alexandre Ziegler (@FranceinIndia) April 11, 2019
An aviation news website, Aviation International News (AIN) Online, had on 13 February reported that pilots of the Pakistani Air Force flew sorties on Qatari Rafale fighter jets.
“The first batch of pilots trained for Qatar in November 2017 was Pakistani exchange officers,” AIN reported.
The news went viral after a Pakistani defence website put it up on Wednesday triggering a major debate on social media in India.
Some opposition leaders took jibes at the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the report.
India has a deal of 36 Rafale fighter jets with France. The deal got mired in controversy with the opposition, especially Congress, alleging a scam and pointing fingers at both PM Modi and industrialist Anil Ambani over the offset contract granted to Reliance Defence.
Even on Thursday, on the first day of polling in the Lok Sabha elections 2019, Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at PM Modi over Rafale.
“Modi should explain to me why his ‘bhai’ Anil Ambani got Rafale contract despite never making an aircraft in his life. He should explain the ‘probe’ by the Supreme Court,” Gandhi said in Rae Bareli after his mother, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, filed her nomination from the constituency.
Qatar had placed two separate orders for 36 Rafale jets. The first of the aircraft was delivered in February.
India will get the first Rafale by September this year. Egypt is the only country other than France that has Rafales in service.