New Delhi: Amid rising tension between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, first batch of four Rafale fighter jets will fly to India in the last week of July.
The four Rafale aircraft are scheduled to depart from France on July 27 and fly to India with a stopover at the Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a defence source said.
There was a possibility of one more aircraft being delivered but was not confirmed yet, a second source said.
These aircraft were scheduled to arrive in May but delayed due to the COVID-19 lockdown in both India and France.
In October 2019, on a visit to France for the 2nd India-France ministerial level annual defence dialogue, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took formal delivery of the first Rafale jet built for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Dassault Aviation’s final assembly facility in Merignac.
The Defence Ministry had stated that during the dialogue, the French side agreed to consider India’s request for 8-10 Meteor missiles to be given by 2020 with the first four aircraft.
While the IAF is particularly keen on accelerating the delivery of these missiles, given the ongoing tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, there is still no clarity on how many of these would be delivered along with the first batch of aircraft.
India and France had signed a contract for 36 Rafale jets in September 2016 worth Rs 59,000 crore and delivery of the jets was worked out to be delivered in May 2020.