A senior functionary of Indian Air Force (IAF) who is also the Air Attache to France was among the people who not only fast tracked the Indo-France Rafale deal but also saw off the first batch of the fighter jets that took off from France on Monday.
Hilal Ahmad Rather is a senior officer who is posted in France and was among few officials including Indian Ambassador to France Jawed Ashraf who was present at the time when the jets flew off for India. Chairman of Dassault Aviation Eric Trappier was also present during the occasion.
Interestingly Air Commodore Hilal Ahmad Rather belongs to Kashmir and is a decorated IAF pilot. He joined IAF in December 1988 and became Wing Commander in year 2004 and Air Commodore in year 2016. He is said to be a brilliant officer with a clean track record. He graduated from Defence Services Staff College (DSSC).
Interestingly Hilal Ahmad Rather is the same officer who helped Defense Minister Rajnath Singh performed ‘Shastra Puja’ when the Rafale jets were handed over to India in 2019. Rather has flown Mig-21, Mirage-2000 among other fighter aircrafts.
The five Rafale fighters that are being flown by the Indian pilots who have been trained by France will reach India on Wednesday. There is one stop in UAE French Airbase for the fighter jets. The jets will be refueled in air before they reach Ambala airbase.
India will procure a total of 36 Rafale jets at a cost of Rs 59000 crore. The deal was signed in year 2016. The five fighter jets will cover a distance of 7000 kms before they touch the ground in India.
Indian embassy in France stated, “Delivery of ten aircraft has been completed on schedule. Five will stay back in France for training Mission. The delivery of all thirty six aircraft will be completed on schedule by the end of 2021,” the Indian embassy in France said in a statement.
With tensions between India and China and superior military power of the country, Rafale jets would provide the much needed strength to the Indian Air Force. According to the experts, Indian airbases are located at such positions that could provide an upper hand to the IAF fighter jets against the Chinese air force.