Macron confirmed the reports during a bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who embarked on an official three-nation visit to France, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain from August 22-26.
India had inked an agreement with the government of France and Dassault Aviation in September 2016 to obtain 36 Rafale fighter jets worth more than Euro 7.8 billion to meet the urgency and cease the fall of fighter squadrons on the western and eastern fronts. The jets will begin arriving in New Delhi from next May.
Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh and IAF chief marshal BS Dhanoa are expected to receive the first jet from the French government near aircraft manufacturing base in Bordeaux.
According to officials, the Indian Rafale plane is much more advanced than those operational ones with France’s Air Force and thus it would be used for training pilots till May next year.
During the bilateral meeting with Macron, Modi said, “We are happy that the first of the 36 Rafale fighter aircraft will be handed over to India next month.”
Moreover, some batches of Indian pilots have been training over the French Air Force jets, the IAF would train at least 24 pilots in three batches till next May.
An issued statement after the bilateral meeting stated defence cooperation in mainstays among others of the strategic partnership between France and India. Moreover, both sides expressed satisfaction over the signed deal progress between two nations, especially the delivery of 1st Rafale jet to India beginning from this year.
The statement said, “They reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen cooperation in defence industry field and extended their support to existing and upcoming partnerships between the defence companies of the two countries in the spirit of ‘Make in India’ and for the mutual benefit of both countries.”
It further added, “Both sides noted with satisfaction that Indian MSMEs are increasingly becoming part of global supply chains of French Defence and Aerospace OEMs and reaffirmed to give further impetus to this trend. They welcomed the ongoing collaboration between aerospace and defence industrial associations of both countries, SIDM for India and GIFAS for France.”