Depending on the global situation and the easing of Coronavirus lockdown in France after May 11, work will resume in the factory where these aircraft are being manufactured.
Will India receive Rafale fighter jets next month? Countries around the globe are under Coronavirus lockdown and flights stand cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. “This has pushed the arrival of the fighter jets from France to a later date,” explained a source.
Based on the contract signed with the French Dassault Aviation, the first four fighter aircraft were expected to be delivered next month. These aircraft were to fly to India while making stops in some countries along the way.
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The Indian Air Force Station at Ambala was getting ready to commission these fighter jets next month. However, with France under COVID-19 lockdown until May 11, everything there has been shut down, including the factory of Dassault Aviation.
Apart from the production at Bordeaux-Mérignac factory coming to a standstill, the training of the officers and technicians has also been put on hold.
Depending on the global situation and the easing of the Coronavirus lockdown in France after May 11, work will resume in the factory where these aircraft are being manufactured. And these aircraft are expected to head to India by July.
And the training of the Indian Air Force pilots and ground personnel will start in a limited manner while maintaining social distancing and other WHO guidelines to be followed during the COVID-19 outbreak.
As was reported by Financial Express Online last October, these aircraft were expected to arrive early May 2020.
However, due to the global Coronavirus pandemic and the air traffic in many countries suspended due to it, the delivery of these fighters could be delayed.
What is India getting?
India has signed a contract for 36 Rafale aircraft from the French company – Dassault Aviation. Under the contract, every year 11 aircraft are to be delivered.
There will be two Squadrons of Rafale Fighters. The first batch of these fighters will be commissioned into the 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’ in Ambala.
The second will be located at Hasimara (West Bengal) and will help in protecting the Eastern borders of the country.
Out of the 36 fighters ordered, six Rafale trainers will bear the ‘RB’ series tail numbers. The ‘RB’ will stand for Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, the man who has played a critical role as the lead negotiator for this huge deal.
And the rest of the 30 fighters will have ‘BS’ in their tail numbers – which are the initials of former Air Chief BS Dhanoa.
The trainer aircraft will be twin-seater with all the features of the fighter aircraft.
The rest of the 30 jets will be equipped with the world’s most advanced weapons package of Meteor and Scalp missiles. These will provide the IAF not only air dominance in the region but also deep strike capability.
The pilots and technicians of the Indian Air Force are already undergoing training on three jets which were handed over to India last year.
What is onboard these fighters?
The aircraft is capable of carrying a variety of potent weapons package including the European missile-maker MBDA’s Meteor BVRAAM and Scalp cruise missile.
More about Meteor
This is the next generation Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air (BVRAAM) missile that has been developed by MBDA.
This is guided by the advanced active radar seeker, and also provides an all-weather capability and the ability to engage a wide range of targets including small aircraft to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and cruise missiles.
The Scalp Missile
This is an air-launched, long-range, deep strike missile.
It has been designed to attack high-value fixed or stationary targets.
The Indian Component
The fighter jets will have some critical components made in India at a facility located in Nagpur.
The engine doors are being manufactured by Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL). These will be fitted on to the aircraft which will come to India later this year.