AGENCIES, New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) will now have to wait a bit longer to get its hands on French Dassault Aviation built Rafale fighter jets as the production of Rafale fighter jets has been temporarily suspended in the wake of coronavirus outbreak. The dates for possible resumption of production haven’t been announced as the country grapples with rising infections and deaths. France recorded 112 coronavirus deaths in a day, taking its total to 562, according to the health ministry on Saturday.
Close to home, it means that the training schedule of Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots will also been affected amid precautionary steps by the aircraft manufacturer.
Defence sources have confirmed that Dassault Aviation’s Bordeaux-Mérignac production facility, which manufactures the Rafale, halted work and work at the facility will remain suspended until 31 March.
“Work has been stopped as a precautionary measure. The training and other related matters have also been put on hold. The steps are being taken as part of the overall protocols being put in place in wake of the coronavirus outbreak,” a source said.
India had ordered 36 Rafale jets at the cost of €7.878 billion with staggered annual delivery schedules. Fro 2020, the IAF is expected to take delivery of 11 Rafale jets. Four Rafale jets are currently under production at the facility while four others are under trials. The first four jets were formally handed over to India in October 2019.
With the first four Rafale fighters set to land in India in a couple of months, multiple IAF personnel are currently in France as part of the training and to monitor its progress.