Rafale Jet induction on fast track


India’s negotiations with French aviation major Dassault for 126 Rafale Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for USD 20 billion “are progressing well” and the contract is likely “sooner than later in the current financial year (2014-15)” a top military commander has said.

The number of Su-30MKI aircraft is also steadily increasing. The IAF has planned induction of 272 Su-30MKIs, periodically upgraded, and nearly 60 percent of them are operational.

The IAF’s proposed strength for combat aircraft is 42 squadrons, to be reached by 2022. Because of the phasing out of the old aircraft like MiG-21s and MiG-23s, the current squadron strength is reported to be 34.

Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha expressed confidence and observed: “Early induction of LCA and MMRCA has been planned for arresting the drawdown in the strength of fighter squadrons…. IAF is likely to have its sanctioned strength of combat squadrons operational sooner than later.”

On the urgent requirement of combat aircraft though, he pointed out: “The MMRCA CNC (Commercial Negotiations Committee) is presently negotiating various aspects of the contract with the L1 vendor, Dassault Aviation of France. The negotiations are progressing well. The contract for 126 MMRCA is expected to be signed sooner than later in the current FY 2014-15.”

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