New Delhi (Sputnik): India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in 2018. Despite manufacturing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Paris had assured New Delhi that the first batch of five jets would be delivered in July. Dassault Aviation, manufacturer of the Rafale has committed to deliver 18 jets to the Indian Air Force by February 2021.
Amidst continuing tensions with China over the border, India will induct the first batch of five Rafale figher jets from France at its air base in Ambala, 200 kilometres north of the national capital New Delhi.
Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar on Tuesday tweeted that the induction would take place on 29 July.
— Ajay Kumar (@drajaykumar_ias) July 21, 2020
Earlier on Monday (20 July), the Indian Air Force said its crews had undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including the highly-advanced weapons system.
“Efforts will focus on operationalisation of the aircraft at the earliest”, said Wing Commander Indranil Nandi, Indian Air Force spokesperson.
After the latest violent standoff with China, in which India lost 20 soldiers, including an officer, New Delhi has been reviewing its acquisition plans for the armed forces to replenish its assets. India had requested its suppliers from Russia, the US, Israel, and France to expedite existing contracts.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh earlier visited the flashpoints in eastern Ladakh and assured the troops that they would be equipped with modern weapons.
The India-China border covers the 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC), which mainly is a land border in most regions, but in Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh it passes through a lake. India controls the western portion of the 45-km lake, while the rest is under Chinese control. Most of the clashes between the two countries have taken place in the Galwan Valley.