New Delhi: Despite the ongoing political battle in India over the Rafale fighter jets deal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre has already made 25 per cent of the payment for the same, news agency ANI quoted Indian Air Forces as saying on Thursday.
According to ANI, the first Rafale fighter jet will be delivered as per schedule to the Indian Air Force by September 2019. The IAF source further told the news agency that the procured aircraft would undergo extensive testing by Indian pilots to assess their functioning in Indian conditions.
This comes almost 10 days after Air Chief Marshal Birendra Singh Dhanoa said that while there was a debate in India over the issue of Rafale deal, rival countries have managed to upgrade their systems.
Air Chief Dhanoa had said that there was no iota of doubt that Rafale jets would be a massive shot in the arm for the Indian Air Force. "Who says we don't need Rafale? The government says we need Rafale, we are saying we need Rafale, the SC has given a fine judgement," he said. "It took us so long that our adversaries have already upgraded their system. Rafale is a game changer."
Recently, the Supreme Court had dismissed all petitions seeking the constitution of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the Rafale deal. Refusing to intervene into the issue of pricing of the jets and the selection of offset partner, the Supreme Court observed that it was satisfied with the process of procurement of the jets.
The decision, however, failed to end the war of words between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the former continued its attack on the government. After the verdict, Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed a press conference, questioning the basis of the judgement. He alleged that government had wrongly informed the top court that the pricing details were given to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Later, the government move the apex court, seeking correction in the paragraph which had reference to the CAG and the PAC. It was conveyed to the court that there had been some misinterpretation on the issue of the documents placed in a sealed cover relating to the CAG and the PAC.