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‘Rafale a booster dose for IAF’

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‘Rafale a booster dose for IAF’

Dinakar Peri

Will be a game-changer: Air Force chief

The acquisition of the Rafale fighter jets and the S-400 air defence system will go a long way in addressing the depleting squadron strength of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Chief Marshal (ACM) B.S. Dhanoa said on Wednesday.

“We had reached an impasse in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) negotiations. We had only three options: wait and hope for the best, withdraw the Request For Proposal and start over again or do an emergency purchase... Both the Rafale and the S-400 are like a booster dose to the IAF,” he said at the annual press conference ahead of the Air Force Day on October 8. India and Russia are expected to conclude an agreement for five regiments of the S-400 Triumf air defence system on Friday during the annual bilateral summit.

Falling strength

ACM Dhanoa flagged the falling fighter squadron strength as the biggest concern. Calling the deal for 36 aircraft a “bold decision” of the government, he said the Rafale would be a “game-changer” when it came to the subcontinent. Asked whether the IAF was consulted before the Rafale deal was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Paris, ACM Dhanoa said: “At the appropriate level, the IAF was consulted. The IAF presented the government with some options.”

Responding to questions on Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) being left out of the deal, ACM Dhanoa said HAL was a licence manufacturer and does not do many offsets. Giving data, he said the total offsets under various deals was about $11.48 billion, of which a major share was of the IAF, which was about $9 billion. Of this, HAL had a share of $400 million. Expressing gratitude to HAL for the support provided during the recent exercise Gagan Shakti, the IAF’s biggest in a decade, ACM Dhanoa said HAL was lagging in delivery schedule in the recent past.

Source: The Hindu 


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