New Delhi: The official residence of Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa in Delhi has a new attraction: A scaled-down model of the Rafale fighter jet armed to the teeth.
The Akbar Road residence is located just opposite the headquarters of the Congress party, which had made alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal one of its major pitches to corner the Narendra Modi government during the campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The model was preceded by a likeness of the Su-30MKI.
IAF sources told ThePrint that the Rafale model was placed outside Dhanoa’s residence a month ago. They denied it had anything to do with election results.
The Rafale model outside the IAF chief’s house comes with two fuselage-mounted Meteor missiles, two wing-tip MICA missiles, a centreline drop tank, and two under-wing drop tanks, besides a French precision-guided munition.
Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa has defended the Rafale amid the opposition onslaught over the deal, calling it a “game-changer” for the IAF that would tilt the balance of power back in India’s favour.
“IAF is about to get two squadrons of Rafale. Rafale has the capability that no enemy can interfere in the air operations, which is a big thing. It will come and change the balance back to us,” he had said recently.
IAF sources said the model was supplied by Dassault, as manufacturers did under any other contract. The first model of the Rafale was put up inside the Air Headquarters: A fully-loaded Rafale is the first thing one sees as they step through the gates of the heavily- guarded Air Headquarters.
“The second model has come up at the chief’s house,” one of the sources said.
India inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 59,000 crore.
The first of the 36 Rafales will be handed over to the IAF in September.
This report has been updated to correct the description of the model size, from “full scale” to “scaled down”.