France has delivered all 36 Rafale fighter jets to India, said the French Envoy in India, Emmanuel Lenain, speaking on the sidelines of the French National Day celebrations on Thursday.
However, while 35 jets have arrived in India, one jet still remains in France, official sources said.
One Rafale jet, which is the instrumented aircraft on which the 13 India specific enhancements (ISE) are being tested, is still in France, an official source said on Friday.
This is also the Rafale built for India and designated RB008. RB stands for former Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria who, as then Deputy Chief of IAF, led the Indian negotiation team and had a major role in the contract negotiations.
The last batch of three Rafale jets had arrived in India in February, taking the total Rafales in inventory of the Indian Air Force to 35. As reported, work on upgrading all the Rafale jets in service to the Indian standard configuration with the 13 ISE is currently underway in India. All ISE have already been qualified and certified.
The naval variant of the French jet, Rafale-M, is in the race along with Boeing F-18 Super Hornet for the Indian Navy’s tender for jets to operate from its aircraft carriers. In January, the Rafale-M had demonstrated its compatibility by operating from the Navy’s shore-based test facility in Goa, while the F-18 carried out demonstration in May.
The report on the operational demo is expected soon, after which the Navy would undertake a staff evaluation. Navy officials have said that they would recommend an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) to conclude the deal.
India and France had signed a €7.87 billion inter-governmental agreement (IGA) in September 2016 for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition, following the surprise announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015 citing “critical operational necessity” of the IAF.