After Defence Minister Rajnath Singh formally taking delivery of the first of the 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets, the French company that manufactures the jets, Dassault Aviation, has released the pictures of the first airborne Rafale jet. According to Live Mint, Dassault Aviation has released the first airborne photographs of the second aircraft with the tail number RB-002.
Singh attended the handover ceremony along with his French counterpart Florence Parly at aircraft maker Dassault Aviation facility in Merignac, southwestern France. The minister performed a Shastra Puja on the new aircraft as he emblazoned it with an 'Om' tilak and laid flowers and a coconut, just before he was to take off in it for a sortie in the newly-acquired two-seater jet.
The first batch of four Rafale jets will fly to India by May 2020. All 36 jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022. The RB001 Rafale, denoting the initials of Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria who played a key role in striking the deal for the jets in his previous role as IAF deputy chief, was unveiled with the Indian tricolour as its backdrop.
This range of Rafale fighter jets have been specially designed to meet the needs of the IAF, which its manufacturer described as a new step in the company's long-standing relationship with India. The Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others.
It was revealed that an Indian Rafale project monitoring team has been based in France since August 2017 to ensure the smooth implementation of the project, aimed at considerably enhancing India's air combat fleet. India had ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016.
(Inputs from PTI)