Pandemic impact: first batch of Rafales likely to fly in late
The arrival of the first batch of Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force is likely to be delayed by around three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as France battles rising infections and deaths, and continuing lockdown restrictions, which have also impacted the training schedule, defence sources said.
‘No clear timeframe’
- In addition, the lockdown restrictions are expected to continue in France at least till the end of April due to severity of the outbreak. “So, it is only obvious that we expect corresponding delay,” the two sources separately stated.
- In October 2019, on a visit to France for the second India-France ministerial-level annual defence dialogue, took formal delivery of the first Rafale jet built for the IAF at the Dassault Aviation’s facility in Merignac. The jets were scheduled to arrive in India by May 2020.
- By May 2020, 24 IAF pilots along with engineers and technicians were scheduled to be trained on the Indian jets in France. Three IAF pilots and two technical officers were trained earlier on French Air Force (FAF) Rafales as per the terms of the contract.