Amid standoff with China, France to deliver ‘fully-loaded’ Rafales to India by July 27: Reports

New Delhi: Amid the escalating tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, France has decided to speed up the deliveries of Rafale fighter jets on a “special request” by the Indian Air Force.

According to a report by Hindustan Times and India Today, the first batch of the Rafale fighter jets will arrive in India on July 27. The Rafale jets will land at their home base in Haryana’s Ambala from France’s Istres on July 27.

The reports further claimed that India will receive six Rafale fighter jets, instead of four, on July 27 while adding that the “Golden Arrows” squadron of the aircraft will be combat-ready by August.

“We are aware that around 10 Rafale jets are ready at aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation’s Merignac facility. Preparations are on to fly six Rafale jets to India in July-end with a stopover at Al Dhafra airbase near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The jets will be flown by Indian pilots,” government sources were quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.

India and France have signed a deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets for Rs 59,000 crore that will be delivered by 2022.

This comes just days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visit to Russia where he asked for urgent supply of spares and associated equipment to India for Russian-origin fighter aircraft including the Su-30MKIs and Mig-29s of Indian Air Force and Mig-29K of Indian Navy, the T-90 battle tanks of the army, and the Kilo-class submarine of the Navy along with other warships.

The development comes at a time when the tensions between India and China escalated after the standoff at the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers, including a Colonel rank officer, lost their lives.

Following the clash at Galwan Valley, India and China have held several Corp Commander-level meetings to defuse the tensions at the LAC.

Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force has been on high alert along the LAC and has been flying combat air patrols at multiple locations in eastern Ladakh. The IAF has already moved a sizeable number of its frontline Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 aircraft and Apache attack helicopters to several key airbases including Leh and Srinagar in the last few days.

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