As the race for the fighter jets for the Indian Navy’s fighter jets starts, France has announced that the order of 36 Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been completed. Despite the global lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, the France based Dassault Aviation has delivered all the combat aircraft ahead of time. Speaking on the sidelines of the French Day celebrations in New Delhi, French Envoy in New Delhi Emmanuel Lenain, said that 36 fighter jets have been delivered to New Delhi.
Though technically all have been delivered to India, only 35 out of the 36 have arrived in India and the last one is still in France as all the 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE) are being tested.
This instrumented aircraft was the first one to be built for India and as has been reported in the Financial Express Online was designated RB008. In this RB stands for the then IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. He was the Deputy Chief of IAF, at the time he had played a major role in the contract negotiations when he was leading the team.
The IAF has no fighters originating from the US; there are French fighters in the IAF – Mirage 2000 and in recent months the Rafale from Dassault Aviation.
The Inter-governmental agreement (IGA) for €7.87 billion for 36 multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition was inked in 2016, following an announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 April, during his visit to that country.
While in February this year, IAF took the delivery of a batch of three Rafale from France taking the total to 35 combat aircraft arriving in India, upgrade of the existing aircraft here in India is underway. These are being upgraded with the 13 ISE configurations which have undergone tests and have been qualified and also certified to be fitted onboard the jets.
OPERATIONAL DEMONSTRATION REPORT AWAITED
Recently the Vice chief of the Indian Navy in response to a media question had said that the report of the operational demonstration of Rafale Marine (M) of Dassault Aviation and US based Boeing Company flew their F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet.
Earlier this year, the French Rafale-M had come to India and demonstrated its compatibility and the F/A-18 Block III carried out a demonstration in May.
The Vice chief of the Indian Navy had also stated the deal for 26 fighter jets for the Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers will be done through government-to-government route/Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). This means that this deal will be done based on the talks between the governments of the companies involved.
AMERICAN AIRCRAFT IN THE INDIAN FLEETS
So far, P-8I Patrol aircraft from Boeing Company are already in the Indian Navy and the delivery of the MH-60 ‘Romeo’ anti-submarine helicopters to US-based Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin is awaited.
There are transport aircraft from Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Company being operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The IAF also inducted AH-64E Apache Longbow attack Helicopters and heavyweight CH-47F (I) Chinooks, both from the Boeing Company.