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Rafale Accepted By IAF, Formal Handover on Dussehra

Why in News?
Its official now!! The IAF is all set to receive its first multi-role combat aircraft i.e. ‘the Rafale’ from Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will receive the jet officially for induction into the IAF on October 8, the day of Dussehra and the Air Force Day.

What is Rafale?
The French Rafale jet is a twin-engine, canard delta-wing, multirole fighter aircraft. The Rafale is equipped with a wide array of weapons whose induction into the Air Force will help aerial reconnaissance missions, air surveillance, anti-ship strike, nuclear deterrence mission

The Rafale Deal Controversy
In April 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India will buy 36 Rafale fighter jets off-the-shelf from Dassault. The decision was long pending in order to upgrade the Indian Air Force old fleet. The French manufacturers Dassault, was chosen in 2012 over counterparts from the United States, Europe and Russia. As per the original plan India was to buy 18 off-the-shelf jets from the manufacturers, while 108 others were to be assembled in India Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in Bengaluru.

The BJP government, however, deviated from the commitment of the last UPA government to buy126 Rafale jets. As per them, the Rafale planes would be too expensive and the deal between India and France assumed a deadlock over the cost of the aircrafts.

However, amidst dire dearth of fighters and a pressure to rejuvenate the ageing air force fleet, the BJP government decided to go ahead with the deal. Once the deal was declared, opposition Congress party accused the sitting government of discrepancy and non-transparency in the deal terming it as a multi-billion dollar scam within the ‘Make-in-India’ campaign.

More about the News
Although India is closer than before to acquire the Rafale planes, but the aircrafts will physically arrive in India only by May 2020 after certain Indian-specific changes are made with the planes. The occasion of Dussehra was chosen by the IAF as this year the Dussehra date coincides with the Indian Air Force Day on October 8.

The backside fins of the Rafale jets will bear the initials RB-01 after the name of the new Air Chief-designate Air Marshal R.K.S. Bhaduaria. He was an important figure in the negotiations between India and France before the finalization of the deal.

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