The first batch of five French Dassault Rafale fighter jets is likely to arrive in India by July-end. Indian Air Force aircrew and ground crew have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly advanced weapons systems and are fully operational now. Post arrival, efforts will focus on the operationalization of the aircraft at the earliest. The aircraft will be inducted at Indian Air Force Station Ambala on July 29, subject to weather conditions. The final induction ceremony will take place in the second half of August. The final induction ceremony will take place in second half of August 20 wherein full media coverage would be planned.
In April 2011, the Indian Air Force shortlisted the Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon for the US$10.4 billion contract. On 31 January 2012, the IAF announced the Rafale as the preferred bidder. It was proposed that 18 Rafales would be supplied to the IAF by 2015 in fly-away condition, while the remaining 108 would be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India under transfer of technology agreements. The contract for 126 Rafales, services, and parts may have been worth up to US$20 billion. In April 2015, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris, India requested the rapid delivery of 36 Rafales in a fly-away condition. India officially withdrew the 126-aircraft MMRCA tender on 30 July 2015.
The future deliveries can get affected only if the COVID-19 issue gets prolonged for a longer period. India has already received India-specific Rafale combat jets on which India pilots are training. Indian Air Force personnel are training at six different places in France. IAF ordered 36 units of the multi role fighter jets from Dassault after assessing multiple jets in a multi billion dollar deal. India has already received 3 fighter jets, with 1st jet being handed over at the companies plant in France and is awaiting for 11 other fighter jets in 2020. The fifth gen fighter jet will enhance the air superiority of the IAF and will be sent to India in a batch of 11 for next 3 years.
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. Many of the aircraft’s avionics and features, such as direct voice input, the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the optronique secteur frontal infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor, were domestically developed and produced for the Rafale programme.