Aviation firm Dassault has handed over three Rafale fighters to India so far, the centre said in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. However, it clarified that they are still being kept in france as part of a training programme for Indian Air Force pilots and technicians.
“Three Rafale fighter aircraft have been handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) till date which are being used for training of IAF pilots and technicians in France,” Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said in reply to a question in Lok Sabha.
Under the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale jet deal, out of the 36 Rafale jets, the first batch of four aircraft is expected to arrive in India in May next year. The rest of the planes will arrive by September 2022.
The first Rafale aircraft, RB-001, was handed over by france to India last month. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had gone on a three-day tour to France to take part in the handover event at a facility of Dassault Aviation in the Merignac area of Bordeaux, around 590 km from Paris.
After having performed a pooja, Mr Singh had taken a 20-minute sortie in the aircraft. A French pilot had flown the customised aircraft with tail number RB-001, named after IAF chief Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria.
In his reply in Lok Sabha today, Mr Naik did not specify when the other two aircraft were handed over to India, news agency PTI reported.
Mr Naik added the price of the jets was 2.86 per cent lower than the rates finalised during negotiations for procurement.