New Delhi (Sputnik) — Chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa is currently on a three-day visit to France where he will review the production facility of Dassault Aviation where the Rafale multi-role fighter jets meant for India are being built. The IAF Chief is also expected to take a test flight of one the fighter jets.The IAF is plagued with steady erosion of current fleet with no replacements in sight. The ongoing two-front conflict with China and Pakistan has deepened the concern.
“IAF is eagerly awaiting the Rafale. The Air Chief is likely assessing the possibility of hastening the aircraft supplies and quicker setting of technical infrastructure.” Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retired) told Sputnik.
Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa will also visit headquarters of French air force and a few operational air bases apart from holding high-level interaction with representatives of France’s military aviation industry.
“During his stay at France, the Chief of the Air Staff is scheduled to hold bilateral discussions with the senior military officials of the French armed forces. The challenges faced by the armed forces of both the countries in the current geo-political scenario are expected to be discussed during these meetings. The main focus of the visit will be on improving bilateral relations, promoting defense ties, and outlining further areas of defense cooperation,” IAF said in a statement.
India and France are currently working together on crucial ventures including the revival of India’s home-made Kaveri engines for combat planes and another project involving the production of stealthy unmanned combat air vehicles.France has been one of the oldest suppliers of fighter aircrafts to India. Dassault MD 450 Ouragan (Hurricane) called ‘Toofani’ in India was inducted in 1954. This was followed by Dassault Mystere IV. Mirage 2000 had excelled in Kargil war (1999) and maintained a very high mission success rate. Meanwhile, Dassault Aviation has also expressed interest in providing fighter jets for Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers.