A six-member team from the Indian Air Force (IAF) has left for France to train on Dassault Rafale fighters: a move that comes a little over two years after New Delhi ordered 36 of the multirole combat aircraft for EUR7.9 billion (USD9.16 billion) via an intergovernmental agreement.
Official sources told Jane's that the team, which comprises a fighter pilot, an engineer, and four technicians, will receive instruction on the Rafales over the next few months at the Saint Dizier-Robinson Air Base in eastern France, and will be followed by other IAF personnel who will undergo similar training.
The sources said that these IAF teams will eventually fly the Rafales to India, in keeping with the agreed delivery schedule that is set to begin in September 2019 and be completed by April 2022.
Meanwhile, several IAF personnel have been visiting France regularly over the past few months to assist Dassault and French Air Force pilots in jointly test-flying a Rafale fitted with ‘India-specific customisations’, 13 of which are to set be incorporated onto the fighters to be operated by the IAF. Industry sources said that final flight certification for the fighter is expected to be completed in France by 2022.
The ‘India-specific customisations’ include a mix of locally developed and commercial off-the-shelf weaponry and equipment such as Israeli-made helmet-mounted display sights, assorted missiles, flight data recorders with 10 hours of storage and infrared search-and-track, and electronic warfare and identification friend-or-foe systems.
The Rafales are also set to be equipped with radio altimeters, low-band jammers, towed decoy systems, Doppler radar, and cold-weather-engine start-up devices for high-altitude airfields.
The IAF’s Rafales are expected to be armed with MBDA’s MICA short/medium-range and Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles and the ground-attack Storm Shadow/SCALP missile.
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