IAF Chief RKS Bhadauria, on Saturday, said the induction of 36 Rafale aircraft into the Indian Air Force would happen by 2022.
The IAF is completely on track with reference to the Rafale induction plan, he said while responding to a reporters’ query on timeline for receiving the 36 fighter jets from France.
“The target is 2022. It is absolutely on target. I mentioned earlier. Except for one or two aircraft, minor delays because of COVID related issues, but, in fact, some deliveries have been ahead of time. So, broadly, we are absolutely on target on the Rafale induction plan.”
He Further added that, “On the operationalisation plan, you’re aware, we are fully operational…so, in terms of your time, we’ll be absolutely on time,” he told reporters after reviewing the Combined Graduation Parade at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal in Hyderabad.
In 2016, India signed an agreement of an inter-governmental with France to acquire 36-Rafale jets at a price Rs 59,000 crore.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in February that the country would have the whole fleet of the fighter by April 2022.
Asked for his assessment on things in eastern Ladakh on the Indo-China border, the IAF Chief said talks are on between the 2 sides and therefore the first attempt is to continue with the parleys and perform the disengagement at the “balance friction points”. “The first attempt is to continue with the talks and do the disengagement at the balance friction points. And, of course, follow it up with de-escalation,” he said.
“However, in parallel, the bottom realities are being monitored closely. Whatever is that the reality across, in terms of current leftover locations, deployments, any changes, that’s being monitored closely and whatever actions are required on our part, we are taking,” Bhadauria said.