Rafale Deal Likely by Year End: IAF Chief

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New Delhi: Admitting a dwindling strength of fighter jets in the Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Saturday said that he is hopeful that the deal for purchasing 36 French Rafale jets will be finalized by the year end.

He said that the negotiations for the deal, finalised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in April, was progressing well.

“I am hopeful that the negotiations for the deal will not go beyond this year,” the air chief said at the annual conference ahead of Air Force Day on October 8.

“This is my feeling,” he added. The air chief said it will take two to three years for the first of two Rafale squadrons to be operational.

He also said that at least six squadrons of medium multi-role combat aircraft were required, adding that the decision on acquiring these will be taken by the government.

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