Covid-19 may delay Rafale delivery, S-400 on schedule
As the world is struggling to contain the Novel Corona (Covid-19) pandemic, it has begun to impact businesses in the defence sector too. In one such case, reportedly, India may not receive the first batch of Rafale jet fighters from France on schedule.
According to a top source, the delivery date can only be finalised once the pandemic subsides and normal work resumes in France.
Yesterday France announced nationwide total lockdown.
Calling the fight against the pandemic a war, French President Emmanuel Macron announced various restriction and measures including outlawing venturing out of home except for essential purposes.
Given the situation, the likelihood of the much-awaited first batch of fighter jets arriving in May is highly unlikely.
In 2016, India signed an inter-governmental deal with France to purchase 36 Rafale multi-role fighter aircraft for Euro 7.8 billion.
Last October, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh received first four fighters in France. Currently, Indian pilots and the technical crew is undergoing training in France.
The 36 aircraft will populate two squadrons of Indian Air Force. The first squadron of the jets, named 17 Squadron will be stationed at Ambala on the western sector and the second squadron will be stationed at Hasimara in West Bengal in the eastern sector.
On the other hand, another much talked about defence procurement, the Russian S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile system is expected to arrive on schedule, sources informed.
Unlike the rest of Europe, Russia has been able to control the spread of the virus. Till date, it has recorded 93 cases only.
India is expected to receive its first S-400 system by the end of 2021. The last delivery of the $5.4 billion contract was signed in October 2018 will arrive in 2025.