French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler Friday said that the first Rafale aircraft will be delivered within two months and it will be “perfectly on time”, news agency PTI reported.
“The first Rafale will be delivered to the Indian Air Force in two months from now, I think in September, perfectly on time,” Ziegler said on the sidelines of a function in Bhopal. “Thirty-six will come within the next two years,” he added.
Ziegler was in Bhopal to preside over the closing ceremony of an Indo-French project on “Distribution Network Performance Enhancement Solutions” carried out by French company EDF International Networks and the state-owned Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company Limited.
Speaking on the fighter jet, the French Ambassador said, “Rafale has been an excellent aircraft. It being chosen by India, we feel honoured, we feel privileged. I think it will add a lot to the capacity of the Indian Air Force.”
Ziegler hailed the relationship between India and France and said, “Look at the track record we have developed in cooperation with India in the past 50 years.”
“The IAF has been flying with French technology, and Indo-French technology, because there is a large amount of technology that we have co-developed,” he said and he then added that the partnership between the two countries will continue for another 50 years.
Referring to the Indo-France relationship as a “strategic partnership”, Ziegler said: “This partnership is developing on the economic front, more and more French investment is coming to India, more and more private partnership is being set up between our companies.”
“When I came to India three years ago, we had only 3,000 Indian students joining our universities every year,” the envoy said. Ziegler added that the number has gone up to 10,000 now.
When questioned about the controversy in India over the purchase of the Rafale aircraft, the envoy said, “I am not interested in controversy. I am interested in results, and in the facts, and the facts are that the first Rafale is coming in within the next two months, and I am proud of that.”
The Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has time and again accused the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of corruption in the Rafale deal as Ambani won an offset contract from Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer, for the deal, despite no previous experience in making aircraft.
In June, the Supreme Court heard review petitions against its verdict declining a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the deal.