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IAF may get its first Rafale fighter jet on Oct 8, say reports

Though the planes would be officially inducted into the IAF on Oct 8, they would start arriving in India only in May 2020, reports have stated.

SNS | New Delhi |

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is expected to receive its first Rafale fighter aircraft from France on October 8.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will reportedly travel to France to receive the fighter jet — manufactured by the French company Dassault Aviation — that will come to India only next year.

According to government sources quoted by news agency ANI, the defence minister will be accompanied by Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and other senior officials.

Though the planes would be officially inducted into the IAF on Oct 8, they would start arriving in India only in May 2020 after refitment to Indian specifications and training of pilots and personnel, according to an ANI report.

The formal induction ceremony will be held at Merignac in France.

Meanwhile, Dussehra and Air Force Day, both fall on October 8.

As per earlier reports, current Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa was to travel to receive the Rafale jet this month.

Though small batches of Indian pilots have already trained on the French Air Force planes, the Indian Air Force would train 24 pilots in three different batches till May 2020 for flying the Indian Rafale fighter jets.

The IAF will deploy one squadron each of the Rafale combat aircraft at its airbases in Ambala in Haryana and Hashimara in West Bengal.

Rafale fighter jets, manufactured by France-based Dassault Aviation, are twin-engine multi-role fighter aircraft. These are nuclear-capable and can engage in both air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks.

All the 36 Rafale jets will be delivered to the Indian Air Force within the next two years, French Ambassador to India, Alexandre Ziegler had said in July.

The Rafale deal has drawn flak from the Opposition which has alleged widespread corruption in the contract.

India had in 2016 signed an agreement with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, costing approximately Rs 58,000-crore (about USD 8 billion), in a fly-away condition for Indian Air Force equipment upgrade.

The Congress has been accusing massive irregularities in the deal, alleging that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government when it was negotiating procurement of 126 Rafale jets.