India gets its first Rafale

INDIA (OBSERVATORY) — The first of the 36 Rafale ordered from France has been delivered to India, making it a “historic day for the Indian Armed Forces,” Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said today.

India received, Tuesday, October 8, the first of 36 Rafale ordered in September 2016 to France, which is eyeing the new markets that represents the renewal of the aging combat fleet of the Indian Air Force.

In front of a Rafale struck by an Indian colored cockade at the Dassault Aviation site in Mérignac, near Bordeaux, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh hailed a “historic day for the Indian armed forces”.

The minister, who was scheduled to fly aboard the aircraft in the afternoon, had beforehand visited the immaculate white lobby, where four Rafales intended for New Delhi were being final assembled.

Next delivery in May

Three Rafales are already finished, but they will join India in May, once the training of the first pilots has been completed. Deliveries should extend until 2022.

Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier underlined “the unique and strong strategic link that united our two countries”, adding that the aircraft had been “specially developed to meet the highly specialized needs of the Indian Air Force”.

The device is expected “impatiently” in India, according to Trappier. The impatience is due to the aging of the Indian Air Force’s disparate fleet, as well as to the many ups and downs that have occurred since the international call for tenders launched in 2007.

Originally carried on 126 aircraft, some of which were to be built on site, it was won five years later by the Rafale, before the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi finally announced the purchase of 36 Rafale built in France.

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