The French government agreed to supply India with 36 Dassault Rafale fighters to meet the Indian Air Force’s urgent need, according to both nations. “In view of the critical operational necessity for multirole combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force, the government of India would like to acquire 36 Rafale jets in flyaway condition as quickly as possible,” reads the joint statement issued by both nations on the official visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Paris April 10-11 for meetings with French President Francois Hollande. India in 2012 selected the Rafale to meet its medium multirole combat aircraft requirement, reported The Times of India. However since the Rafale beat out contenders including the F-16, F-18E/F, and Eurofighter Typhoon, Indian negotiations with the French on acquiring up to 126 Rafale jets have remained stalled over cost and industrial workshare issues. Now, the Indian government is apparently leaning toward sticking with direct government-to-government sales for any additional Rafales it buys beyond these first 36, according to the newspaper’s report. India is also developing the fifth generation T-50 fighter with Russia.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.