The Indian Air Force is reportedly confident of recieving the first batch of four Rafale fighter jets in May 2020, as per the schedule, despite the fact that the Dassault Aviation has halted the production of the aircraft in France till March 31 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
News agency ANI quoted an IAF source as saying that Dassault will deliver its first batch of Rafale jets by May this year unless the production lockdown is prolonged.
“There will be no effect on the arrival of the first batch of these fighters in India in May this year. The future deliveries can get affected only if the COVID-19 issue gets prolonged for a longer period. India has already received India-specific Rafale combat jets on which our pilots are training,” ANI quoted its IAF source as saying.
India has already received 3 fighter jets and IAF personnel are being presently trained at six different places in France. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had received the first Rafale fighter jet on behalf of IAF in France on October 8, 2019. He had also performed ‘Shashtra Puja’ on the fighter jet as part of Dussehra celebrations. India had ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016.
France is among the worst victims of the coronavirus pandemic. 450 people have lost their lives due to coronavirus till date in France and over 12,000 have tested positive. President Macron had on March 16 announced strict confinement measures until the end of March to prevent the further spread of the virus.