New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) received the first multi-role combat aircraft Rafale from its manufacturer Dassault Aviation in France on Thursday, defence sources said on Friday.
The jet will be formally handed over to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for induction into the IAF when he visits France on the occasion of Dussehra on October 8.
The defence sources said the Rafale jet was accepted by a team of IAF officials at the aircraft’s manufacturing facility in Bordeaux after completion of certain testing formalities.
Sources said the first jet was test-flown on Thursday by IAF’s Deputy Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal V.R. Chaudhary who is also leading the team that is in France.
Officials said that on Thursday, India moved one step closer to acquiring the multi-role combat aircraft. However, the aircraft will physically arrive in India after installation of India-specific enhancements upon it. The first jet is expected to arrive in India only around May 2020.
The IAF has said that the occasion of Dussehra was chosen for receiving the first Rafale jet because it falls this year on October 8 which is also celebrated as Air Force Day.
India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France and Dassault Aviation in September 2016 to purchase 36 Rafale jets in flyaway condition from the French manufacturer. The deal had been signed for approximately Rs 59,000 crore.
A set of IAF pilots have already been trained in France for flying the aircraft while more number of officers are expected to undergo training in different batches till the physical arrival of the aircraft in India.
The tail fins of the India-specific Rafale jets bear the initials RB-01 after the name of the Air Chief-designate Air Marshal R.K.S. Bhaduaria. He had played a crucial role in the negotiations with France before India finalized the deal for the 36 fighter jets.