New Delhi: A replica of the Rafale fighter aircraft has been installed outside Air Force chief BS Dhanoa’s house. The house is in bang opposite the Congress headquarters located on 24 Akbar Road while the Rafale replica points exactly in that direction.
Earlier, there was a model of the Sukhoi aircraft outside the Air Force chief’s residence, which was removed a few months ago. But that replica did not point towards the Congress headquarters.
The previous Narendra Modi government entered a direct contract with the French government for Rafale. In September 2016, India had entered the government-to-government contract for 36 Rafale aircraft with the French government and Dassault Aviation.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had accused the Modi government during the Lok Sabha election campaign of some scam in the Rafale deal, which found few takers. In fact, he had to apologise to the Supreme Court for attributing his accusations to the highest court of the country.
The first Rafale aircraft will be delivered to the Indian Air Force’s ‘Golden Arrow’ 17 Squadron. This unit was led by Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa during the Kargil War in 1999. The unit was earlier located in Bathinda of Punjab. It has now been moved to Ambala in Haryana.
First Rafale consignment arriving in September
The Indian Air Force will get the first fighter aircraft of Rafale in September this year, which is just four months from now. The consignment consists of four fighter aircraft.
However, these aircraft will have to fly for 1,500 hours in the Indian environment to make sure they are battle-ready in the conditions of the subcontinent. After this, the first batch of the four Rafale planes is expected to reach the Ambala base in 2020.
Fighters’ base changed
A Jaguar aircraft squadron is stationed at the Ambala base. It is to keep an eye on suspicious movements, if any, in Pakistan.
Earlier, the Saraswat airbase of Uttar Pradesh was being contemplated as the testing site. It was cancelled due to problems in land acquisition.