Rafale induction on schedule: IAF chief

President ram Nath Kovind inspecting a parade of IAF at air force station, Guwahati on Thursday. photo by Manash Das, Guwahati 

The induction of Rafale fighter aircraft is on schedule and IAF is likely to get the first aircraft next year, IAF chief B S Dhanoa said on Thursday, soon after President Ram Nath Kovind awarded a helicopter unit in Guwahati.

Dhanoa said this when asked if the controversy regarding the procurement of the Rafale aircraft had stalled IAF’s process to augment its operational capability by inducting the latest aircraft.

“We are supposed to induct a number of fighter aircraft. There is a request for information for 114 fighter aircraft and there is also a proposal to induct Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in big numbers. The LCA squadron will go up to 12 with a total of 231 aircraft. This will be the largest squadron of aircraft we have ever inducted so far. In addition, we are in the request for information (RFI) stage for the procurement of more fighters. After the RFI stage, we go for a request for procurement of fighter procurement programme,” he said.

The controversy regarding procurement of 136 Rafale fighter jets has led many to suspect that continuous allegation of the Opposition parties could stall IAF’s move to augment its operational capability.

Before Dhanoa’s interaction with media, President Ram Nath Kovind gave away the President’s Standard award to 118 helicopter unit, Guwahati and the President’s Colours award to Air Defence College, Lucknow.

The helicopter unit, raised in November 1971, is equipped with Mi-9 and Mi-17 helicopters and is catering to air support requirement of defence forces in the Tawang sector bordering China in Arunachal Pradesh and other areas.

It is also assisting in rescue and relief operations during calamities.

The Air Defence College provides professional training not only to officers of air force but also to sister services and officers from friendly countries.

The flying element of the college played a vital role during the wars in 1962, 1965 and 1971.

Lauding the helicopter unit and the college, Kovind said that India is now seen as an eminent power by the rest of the world and is expected to play a prominent role in shaping the global paradigm with regards to international security, trade and commerce, and environmental protection.

“India’s rise in the international order has many dimensions to it. And it draws heavily from the capabilities and valour of our armed forces,” he said.

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Rafale induction on schedule: IAF chief

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