Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria is scheduled to depart for France on Tuesday on a three-day visit. The IAF Chief is slated to hold extensive talks with Chief of Staff of the French Air Force Philippe Lavigne on ways to further expand cooperation between the two forces, people familiar with the matter stated.
Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria may flag off a batch of five to six Rafale jets from the Merignac airbase in the French port city of Bordeaux for India, they said. The IAF Chief will also take stock of production and delivery timelines of the remaining Rafale jets, they added.
Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale jets, was scheduled to send six Rafale aircraft to India by the end of April. The arrival of the new batch of fighter aircraft will pave way for the IAF to raise its second squadron which will be based in Hasimara airbase in West Bengal.
India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. 14 jets have been delivered to the IAF so far.