A Rafale fighter jet, manufactured by Dassault Aviation SA
A Rafale fighter jet, manufactured by Dassault Aviation SA | Jason Alden/Bloomberg
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New Delhi: The controversial report that claimed Pakistan fighter pilots were trained on Dassault Rafale jets, which India has purchased from France, originated in an Egyptian news website called Seventh Day (Youm7), said a column in Business Today Sunday.

The report, carried by the US portal Aviation International News (AIN), had triggered concerns in the Indian security establishment with its claim that Pakistan Air Force pilots participating in an exchange programme with Qatar, a recent Rafale buyer, had received training on the jets.

Cairo-based Youm7 offers news from Egypt and West Asia.

Screenshot of Egyptian website www.youm7.com
Screenshot of Egyptian website www.youm7.com

In 2015, a columnist in The Guardian had described Youm7 editor Khaled Salah as “an unlikely jihadist” in an interview that traced his transformation from being a jailed radical to “running Egypt’s only digital-first newspaper”.

Roots of the row

The controversy over Pakistani pilots having access to Rafale jets began in February, when AIN carried a report with a passing reference to the fact that “the first batch of pilots trained for Qatar in November 2017 were Pakistani exchange officers”.

Also read: IAF wants fresh info from France as concern rises over reports of Pakistani pilots’ Rafale training

The training operation in question was just over a year after India and France sealed the deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft, manufactured by Dassault Aviation, in September 2016, and the report stoked worry in India, which will receive the first batch of the Rafale aircraft in September.

The report has since been discredited, with the French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler calling it “fake news” and AIN removing the line from the article.

Writing for Business Today Sunday, Rakesh Krishnan, a New Zealand-based defence and foreign affairs analyst, noted that the news article had also appeared on a website called World Armed Forces Forum(WAFF), which had taken the story from Seventh Day (Youm7).

WAFF is one of the popular news websites that boasts of membership from 140 countries.

On being contacted by Krishnan, AIN’s Jon Lake, who wrote the controversial report, stated, “I merely repeated the report on the Arabic language news website Seventh Day (Youm7) which was reposted on WAFF.”

Qatar has bought 24 Rafale jets from France’s Dassault Aviation for €6.3 billion, receiving the first of the planes this February. According to the AIN Online report, a dozen more aircraft were added to the order in December 2017.

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3 Comments Share Your Views


  1. AFAIK Qatar added the 12 optional Rafales, so the order is of 36.
    India needs much more than 36 Rafales.
    China has more than 2,000 fighter jets, Pakistan more than 500 and has just started do produce JF-17 block 3 (Mach 2/AESA version) while being in talks for 30-40 Shenyang J-31
    India needs 42-45 squadrons…
    There will soon be 14-15 Su-30MKI squadrons, that’s OK, but… Mirage-2000 and MiG-29 are already 30+ years old while MiG-27, Bison, Jaguar (and I’ve heard about a few MiG-23 still being used as trainers) are simply geriatric… Moreover, a 20+ years old MiG-29 costs so much in maintenance that if you use it for 10 years, having a brand new Rafale and using it costs you $18.5M less!

    So, what is needed is 14-15 squadrons of 18 Rafale (and some additional for attrition) and as much squadrons of the ‘rafalised’ Tejas Mk1(?). INAF would also need 57 Rafale-M. Remember that Dassault CEO said full transfer of technology if 200 orders (and the offset pays for the factories, so…)
    Why do I say ‘rafalised’ Tejas???
    – DRDO already flight-validated a modified Thales RBE2/AESA for Tejas. This is way more powerful than Elta EL/M 2052.
    – DRDO already validated (flight-tests soon to happen) the “Kaveri K9+” which is the 98kN version of Rafale’s M88.
    M88 being much smaller than the GE F404 or the Tejas Mk2-planned GE F414 while having the same thrust as F414, then Mk1 won’t need to be stretched to stuff as much internal fuel as Mirage-2000 so there is no need for a Mk2 and no need to test a prototype with a different flight envelope, all you need is to validate the mods. Note that ‘Make in India’ Rafales would be fit with domestically built M88/K9+! Yup, India will make engines, not just have HAL assembling Russian kits! Payload is likely to increase to 12t, max speed too (likely Mach 2+ sustained, peak at Mach 2.2-2.3)
    – Dassault already provided revised blue-prints with the additional internal tanks, the revised air intakes and even structural reinforcements allowing 9G+, these were already delivered in 2017. According to leaks (from a well known accurate source), Tejas would end weighing 500kg less…
    So you end with the same thrust as the mighty Emirati Mirage-2000-9 (6,800kg payload) while weighing 1,800kg less. Hardpoints allowing to carry heavier payload surely must be considered, conformal tanks too and double/triple/quadruple/hexa ejector racks too (!)
    – A BRS recovery parachute has been added, so, in case of engine or critical failure, no crash, Tejas will land softly (!)
    – Thales and DRDO prepared an active stealth system isolated from the SPECTRA suite (Tejas is too small to fit all this in)
    => I’d highly recommand to fit Thales OSF-IT on Tejas : it’s the sole 2nd gen. QWIP (quantum EO/IRST) enabling to “see” stealth aircraft from very very far.

    Now, AFAIK, it seems there is reluctance at having Tejas fit this way since the price would be about $40M… But… The new old stock MiG-29 (forgotten at Mikoyan’s since 1991) soon to come from Russia will cost $40M too and won’t carry as much payload, won’t have RBE2/AESA (which is 100% Meteor compatible) and won’t allow 10-11 missions per 24h for a full week in intensive combat use, not even the 5-6 missions in normal use.
    If Rafale-M will be required for future CATOBAR INS Vishal, with the upgrade, Tejas-M would easily replace the shameful MiG-29K which is seen as a woe in INAF.
    In the end, the rafalised Tejas would do the job of two F-16 for the half of the price, except that…
    Rafale being closer to F-22 than anything else, Tejas will be to outmatch F-35, thanks to active stealth.

    Pakis don’t need endless talks to decide on weapons programs, Koran just tell them : “Kill the “infidels”, especially the polytheists and the Jews.


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