New Delhi: The second batch of Rafale fighter jets — likely to be four in number — is set to arrive at the Ambala Air Force Station in October as part of the Rs 59,000-crore deal with the French government, ThePrint has learnt.
These will land here after the formal induction ceremony of the first five Rafale fighters, which is to be held on 10 September. The ceremony would be attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart Florence Parly.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said the French defence minister has already confirmed her presence.
Sources said once the ceremony is done, the next set of Rafale fighters would arrive in October. “The next set of fighters, which are likely to be four in number, will arrive in the country in October,” a source said.
Five Rafale jets, including two twin-seaters, had landed on 29 July at the Ambala Air Force Station, home of the first squadron of the French fighters.
They had flown 8,500 km from Merignac in France, with a stopover in UAE.
Known as the 4.5 generation aircraft, the Rafale is considered to be one of the finest fighters in the world and is described as an ‘omnirole’ aircraft that can take up several missions on a single flight.
While India had ordered 36 Rafale fighters in 2016, the numbers are just too small for the IAF, which at present has a strength of 31 squadrons as against the sanctioned one of 42 Squadrons.
Even though the IAF is supposed to come out with a Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) 2.0 for 114 fighters, work on it has been rather slow with a formal tender yet to be issued.
ThePrint had reported that this tender could take time and the main focus right now is to firm up the order of 83 LCA Tejas Mk 1A.
Meanwhile, talks of additional 36 Rafale fighters have also been doing the rounds for long in defence corridors.