IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa defended the government decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France for emergency reasons in a government-to-government deal. This had been done on several occasions in the past, he said while sounding alarm over depleting combat edge of the IAF in the face of a two-front war.
“By providing the Rafale and S-400, the government is strengthening the IAF to counter the depleting force numbers,” ACM Dhanoa said in his address at a seminar on IAF force structure, organised by the Centre for Air Power Studies.
He said the government had undertaken emergency procurements on several occasions in the past. In 1983, when Pakistan inducted the first lot of F-16s, India got MiG-23MF air defence interceptors from the Soviet Union. India later also got two squadrons of Mirage-2000s and two squadrons of MiG-29s.
“It is pertinent to note that all those procurements are for two squadrons of aircraft and under the umbrella of Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA),” ACM Dhanoa added. When asked by the media if the present deal was cheaper than the earlier deal for 126 jets which fell through, the air chief said it “would be answered by the Ministry of Defence”.
India and France signed a €7.87 billion IGA for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition in September 2016, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement during his visit to Paris in April 2015.