New Delhi: Chief of Air Staff B S Dhanoa on Tuesday flew a sortie in a Rafale fighter jet from a French airbase to gain first-hand experience of the aircraft, 36 of which are being procured for the Indian Air Force.
Dhanoa is a on a four-day visit to France to ramp up cooperation between the air forces of the two countries in a range of areas. He flew the fighter at the Saint-Dizier airbase — a prominent installation of the French air force, an IAF official said here.
India is procuring the Rafale multi-role fighter jets from French aviation major Dassault under a Euro 7.87 billion (approx Rs 59,000 crore) deal inked in September last year. Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa will also take stock of progress in their supply. The fighter jets are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and will be equipped with the latest missiles that will give the IAF greater “potency” over arch-rival Pakistan.
The Rafale combat aircraft will come with various India- specific modifications including Israeli helmet mounted displays, radar warning receivers and low band jammers, among others.
The Inter-Governmental Agreement for the supply of the jets was signed in September last year, 16 months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s plans to buy 36 Rafale aircraft in fly-away condition.
According to the deal, the delivery of the jets will start in 36 months and will be completed in 67 months from the date the contract is inked.